Voting and engagement in the development of public policy are both a responsibility and the great privilege of being a citizen in a democracy. Environmental planning, regulations, and funding for our natural resources directly affect our efforts to restore and protect our natural resources. Through our advocacy work, LRNow works with our elected officials and community leaders to advocate for good environmental policy at the local, state and federal levels.
To sign up for our Public Policy e-newsletter, please email Karen@LRNow.org
Our Work at the Local, State and Federal Level
Good public policy starts with understanding the positions of our candidates on the issues that are most important to you. Our Candidates Forums each fall give voters a chance to listen to the candidates and ask questions to determine who will represent their priorities on the City Council or in the General Assembly. With city offices and every state delegate and state senator on the ballot this fall, weheld three Candidates Forums at Zeiders Theater in Town Center. Fall 2020, we will be hosting City Council candidates.
Every Vote Counts. Whether it is on our own City Council or the General Assembly in Richmond, who represents you is very important. And all of those who aspire to represent us need to know what issues are important to you. Come out to our Candidates Forums in October and find out where your potential representatives stand on the issues that are important to you. Remember, everyone votes for every office on the ballot in Virginia Beach, not just your district
We have worked to prevent action to weaken the protections for our local waters under the Clean Water Act and advocated for funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration, but preventing seismic testing and drilling for gas and oil in the Atlantic Ocean off of our coast is our most important federal issue. We continue to work with our Congresspeople and our Senators to prevent the issuance of seismic testing permits and the sale of gas and oil leases in the Atlantic while the federal administration continues to move ahead with plans to allow both seismic testing and drilling.
There is widespread consensus in our area that oil and gas drilling off of our coast would not be good for Virginia and Virginia Beach. It is opposed by our tourist businesses; would interfere with Naval training activities in the Atlantic; and have detrimental, possibly catastrophic, impacts on our waterways, beaches, wetlands, marine animals, and our delicious local seafood. We will continue to work on this issue as long as it continues to be a threat.
Each year, our Board of Directors adopts a list of priorities for the General Assembly session. In the 2020 session, we have worked on and will continue to work on issues related to flooding resilience; funding for stormwater improvements; a study of the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed; actions to prevent offshore drilling; and controls on single-use plastics. On all of these issues, we join with partners from across the state through the Virginia Conservation Network.
At the local level we engage with our City Council members and other local leaders to understand our local challenges and opportunities, our budget choices and the best policy decisions for all of the watersheds and residents of Virginia Beach.
Our way of life in Virginia Beach is tied to our natural resources. We love our beaches, our beautiful waterways and our extensive parks. We are very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place that offers year round opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Our work is to restore and protect those natural resources. With 450,000 people in our city and all of the development that comes with that population, our waterways and natural areas have all been impacted. But with good policy choices we can protect our natural resources, develop smartly and deal with our biggest challenge: climate change and sea level rise.
Climate Change and Sea Level Rise
Sea level rise, increased precipitation, and land subsidence are all contributing to the increased flooding that we are experiencing in Virginia Beach. The nature and frequency of our storm events is changing rapidly. In every day’s news, we learn more about the devastating impacts of climate change. This presents us with two sets of challenges, adaptation and mitigation.
As a coastal region already experiencing increased flooding, we have to take actions to adapt smartly to a future that will be very different. This is complicated in Virginia Beach by our various watersheds. We have water on all four sides of our city. The northern third of Virginia Beach is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and subject to lunar tides and storm surges. The Lynnhaven River watershed makes up most of that area, but on the west side there are also the Little Creek and Elizabeth River watersheds.
About 5% of our land area drains directing to the Atlantic Ocean. The largest part of that watershed is the Rudee-Owl Creek watershed. These areas, like the Chesapeake Bay watershed are subject to lunar tides and storm surges.
The largest land area in Virginia Beach is in our southern watersheds, 65% of Virginia Beach. The North Landing and Back Bay watersheds make up this part of our city. It includes the farm areas we value in Pungo, Blackwater and Creeds, but it also includes developed areas in Red Mill, Salem, Centerville and even Kempsville. These areas of our city drain south into the Albemarle and Pamilico Sounds and are subject to wind tides that can blow water up from the Allemarle and Pamilco and are generally low elevation with a high ground water table.
Each of these areas of our city have different challenges and different strategies for successful adaptation to the threat of increased flooding. Improved stormwater management, strategic development decisions, restoring our wetlands and oyster reefs, and conserving and expanding our conserved forests are all strategies that we need to employ in all areas of our city.
Many of the strategies that we have promoted to help clean up our waterways include: installing rain barrels, rain gardens, and infiltration trenches as well as reducing impervious surfaces and turf grass, installing vegetated roofs, and planting trees also help control flooding.
Mitigation is all of the ways that we can be a part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing climate change. It is imperative that we take bold action as individuals, as a city, as a state and as a nation, if we are going to have any effect on the alarming climate changes the entire planet is experiences.
LRNow is committed to working with all of our members, residents, businesses and faith communities, to discover ways to reduce our energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. We are offering financial support for energy audits and encouraging all of our members to examine ways to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Trees are one of our most important tools for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and managing water. We are promoting tree planting with all of our partners and actively looking for opportunities for larger forest restoration projects. We are all discovering and celebrating the power of trees. LRNow has partnered with the Nature Conservancy and Virginia Tech University to study to benefits of conserved forest land and to plan carefully and smartly to protect and expand our conserved forest lands in Virginia Beach.
Hope in moderating the effects of climate change lies in every person’s individual commitment to make changes that can have large cumulative impacts.
Watch this page for more content as we learn more and develop our strategies and approach to adaptation. And keep in mind, as Paul Hawken said, “If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world”.
This link will take you to a copy of the City of Virginia Beach’s comprehensive plan for dealing with sea level rise and increased flooding, Sea Level Wise. This is the culmination of many years of work and combines three earlier publications on specific aspects of this planning work. The Sea Level Wise plan includes policy and program recommendations, natural and nature-based strategies, and engineered strategies. All need to be a part of a successful program of adapting to changing conditions, protecting our natural resources, and ensuring a prosperous future for Virginia Beach.
Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resilience
Following years of leadership, collaboration, and demonstrated expertise in a wide array of resilience and water-related disciplines, and recognizing that flooding affects the entire Commonwealth, Old Dominion University, the College of William & Mary, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have established the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency. This is a collaborative project bringing together the sciences, law, engineering, and the social sciences to collaborate on this important effort.
Adapt VA is a project of the CCRFR described above and provides a wide range of information for homeowners, businesses and everyone who lives, works, and recreates in coastal Virginia or has an interest in our future. The portal provides a one-stop shop of evidence-based planning tools and resources to respond to changing climate conditions.
On November 23, 2018, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was released by the federal government. This work is a collaboration of 13 different federal departments and is very comprehensive. The entire report is available at this link, but may be a little over-whelming. On the home page you will see a link to the Summary Findings which is an excellent overview. You may also want to go to the individual chapters and read Chapter 19 on the Southeast.
Virginia Conservation Network
The Virginia Conservation Network is a coalition of over 100 conservation organizations across the state. LRNow is proud to be a partner organization. The coalition offers network partner organizations the opportunity to work together on issues of mutual interest and have a stronger voice in the General Assembly and beyond. VCN tackles issues related to Clean Energy, Healthy Waters, and Smart Communities.
LRNow staff and volunteers participate on the Water Workgroup and in the three primary events sponsored by VCN each year: Environmental Forum in the fall, General Assembly Preview Day in December, and Lobby Day at the General Assembly in January. All who are interested are invited to participate in these events. Please watch our E-News for dates, locations, and registration information. Karen Forget currently serves as the Vice-President of the Board of Directors of VCN.
Choose Clean Water is a coalition of groups throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed who are working on water quality issues. This group supported by the National Wildlife Federation brings together voices from Virginia Beach to New York to learn about and common issues, work together on solutions, and have a collective strong voice in Washington, DC on water quality issues that are a part of the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
LRNow staff participate on monthly workgroup calls, the annual conference and lobby day on Capital Hill.
The Virginia Coastal Alliance (VACA) is a coalition of environmental organizations working together on issues that affect the coastal area of Virginia. Our primary focus up to this point has been offshore drilling and seismic testing, but we are exploring other areas where we can work together.
Commissions and Boards
LRNow staff members serve on all of the following local, regional and state boards and commissions.
Virginia Beach Green Ribbon Committee
Virginia Conservation Network Board of Directors
Congresswoman Elaine Luria’s Chesapeake Bay Advisory Commission
Virginia Beach Forest Conservation Study Group
Virginia Beach Vision Board and Resiliency Committee
Resort Area Commission Green Committee
Bikes and Waterways Committee
Parks and Recreation Foundation
Our Elected Representatives
Virginia Beach City Council
Mayor Bob Dyer
Vice Mayor Jim Wood
Louis Jones – Bayside District
Guy Tower – Beach District
Jim Wood – Lynnhaven District
Michael Berlucchi – Rose Hall District
Sabrina Wooten – Centerville District
Barbara Henley – Princess Anne District
Jessica Abbott – Kempsville District
Rosemary Wilson – At Large
John Moss – At Large
Aaron Rouse – At Large
All City Council meetings are open to the public, can be viewed on Cox Channel 48 and Verizon Channel 45, or streamed from the City’s website. For more information about City Council meetings, schedules, or information about how to contact your City Council representatives, go to:
SUSTAINABLE YARDS PROGRAM: Let us help you “green” your Lynnhaven watershed home. This unique program provides specific stormwater management practices to your yard at a significantly reduced cost to you.