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NVCT Shares its Legislative Priorities for Virginia's 2021 General Assembly

Virginia State House-Richmond, Virginia/ Photo retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

The Virginia General Assembly is currently in session and debating issues pertinent to Northern Virginia. NVCT is hard at work, tracking and advocating for land conservation legislation and budget priorities to bring much-needed investment to our parks, wildlife, and natural areas.

Here's a list of specific bills we are following and our position on them. Please contact your state senators and delegates to urge them to prioritize our lands, water, and wildlife during the ongoing General Assembly.

HB1760/SB 1199 - Conservation easements; certain easements be liberally construed in favor of purpose which created

  • Introduced by: Delegate Wendy Gooditis, Delegate Michael Webert, Senator Chap Peterson

This legislation clarifies that any court interpreting ambiguity in a conservation easement should do so in a way that protects the conservation values enumerated in that easement. It promotes the intent of conservation easements and specifically the conservation values protected by the easement when an interpretation question is raised. The General Assembly should enact this legislation so that the integrity of conservation easement provisions is upheld across the state

  • NVCT Position: Support

HB1763/SB1162 - Tax credit; agricultural best management practices

  • Introduced by: Delegate Tony Wilt; Senator Emmett Hanger

This legislation would create an enhanced income tax credit for both individuals and corporations beginning in 2021 who implement certain agricultural best management practices that are required as part of a certified resource management plan.

  • NVCT Position: Support

HB1045 - Tree-replacement ordinance; banking

  • Introduced by: Delegate Paul Krizek

Authorizes any locality that has adopted a tree-replacement ordinance to require a developer to make up for any net loss in tree cover by planting additional trees on property protected by a conservation easement or paying the locality to do so.

  • NVCT Position: Support

HB1624 - Trees; conservation during land development process

  • Introduced by: Delegate Joshua Cole

This legislation states that any locality in the process of land development must either plant and replace trees damaged or removed, or plan for the conservation of the trees. The current system only allows a locality within Planning District 8 with a population density of 75 persons per square mile and which is classified as an eight-hour nonattainment area for ozone under the federal Clean Air Act and Amendments of 1990, to participate in this type of conservation.

  • NVCT Position: Support

HB1804: - State parks; DCR to develop recommendations for funding, report.

  • Introduced by: Delegate Robert Orrock

This legislation directs the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to develop recommendations for dedicated funding for state parks.These funds will help protect existing sites and visitors while opening new natural areas from the Shenandoah Valley to Southeast Virginia. Once completed, the recommendations would be submitted by the DCR to the Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources, House Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural resources, as well as the Senate Committee on Finance by November 1, 2021.

  • NVCT Position: Support

HB1819 - Rappahannock River; designating a 79-mile portion as a component of Va. Scenic Rivers System.

  • Introduced by: Delegate Joshua Cole, Delegate Mark Cole, Delegate Robert Orrock

This legislation will add a 79-mile portion of the Rappahannock River to the Rappahannock State Scenic River from Caroline, King George, Westmoreland, Essex, and Richmond Counties, several of which are areas NVCT is actively working in to protect land along the river itself.

  • NVCT Position: Support

HB2042 - Replacement and conservation of trees during development

  • Introduced by: Delegate Joshua Cole, Delegate Nancy Guy

Gives localities the ability to exceed general requirements in their tree replacement and conservation ordinances in specific circumstances, including development that impacts stormwater permit requirements, recurrent flooding, formerly redlined areas, and comprehensive plan compliance.

  • NVCT Position: Support

HB707/SB419 - Conservation of trees: Town of Vienna

  • Introduced by: Delegate Mark Keam; Senator Chap Petersen

By ordinance, the town of Vienna is allowed to require that a subdivision or development provide for the preservation or replacement of trees on the site of development such that the minimum tree canopy 10 years after development is projected to meet specified coverage criteria. As the current criteria apply to coverage 20 years after development, this will cut in half the length allotted.

  • NVCT Position: Support

SB 1290 - ConserveVirginia program; established

  • Introduced by: Senator Monty Mason

Establishes in the Department of Conservation and Recreation a data-driven Geographical Information Systems model to prioritize potential conservation areas across the Commonwealth that would provide quantifiable benefits to the citizens of Virginia, known as ConserveVirginia.

  • NVCT Position: Neutral - The Governor’s Conserve Virginia (CV) land conservation prioritization tool has many worthwhile goals and the Department of Natural Resources deserves credit for bringing it to local communities and soliciting feedback. That said, the GIS layers used to identify land conservation priorities have flaws and are not exhaustive of the many values for which land trusts and other conservation organizations utilize to protect key natural areas

HB1364 - Resource Protection Areas; improvement plans

  • Introduced by: Delegate Keith Hodges

The legislation stipulates that in communicating regulations that establish criteria for use by local governments to determine the ecological and geographic extent of Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas, the State Water Control Board is directed to provide that any owner of land in a Resource Protection Area may improve that area using native plants and mixtures of organic material. A landowner must first obtain a water quality impact assessment and improvement plan with a professional stamp from a qualified landscape architect, engineer or other relevant professional before implementation of the improvement.

  • NVCT Position: Support

HB2052 - Land Banks; right of first refusal for tax delinquent parcels

  • Introduced by Delegate Ibraheem Samirah

The legislation requires localities that have established a land bank to establish a procedure whereby the land bank shall have a right of first refusal for tax delinquent parcels prior to such property being sold at auction. The price for any such purchase by the land bank shall be $1 and any court and transaction expenses. If a land bank exercises its right of first refusal to purchase a property from the locality and, in the judgment of the locality, fails to begin rehabilitation of the property or fails to take other action to cause reuse of the property within one year, such as transferring the property to a nonprofit entity, ownership of the property shall revert back to the locality. These provisions may be utilized for any parcel with a value that does not exceed 80 percent of the median value of parcels in the locality.

  • NVCT Position: Support

HJR527 - Invasive plant species; DCR, et al., to study the sale and use of species

  • Introduced by: Delegate David Bulova, Delegate Daniel Helmer, Delegate Paul Krizek, R. Lee Ware

The legislation stipulates that the Department of Conservation and Recreation, in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will establish a work group to study the use and sale of invasive plant species.This legislation asks that the departments work with the plant industry and agriculture groups, as well as conservation nonprofits and state agencies to develop baseline recommendations which address statutory and regulatory changes intended to reduce or eliminate the sale and use of invasive plant species in the Commonwealth and promote that of native plants.

  • NVCT Position: Support

HJR538 - Access to water; human right.

  • Introduced by: Delegate Lashrecse Aird

The legislation recognizes that it is a necessary human right to have access to clean, potable, and affordable water.

  • NVCT Position: Support

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