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Date: June 29, 2004

Bay preservation duties go to conservation department

(RICHMOND) - Effective July 1, 2004, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will be responsible for implementing the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act as the former Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Department becomes a part of the conservation agency.

The merger between CBLAD and DCR is the result of legislative budget action taken during the special session that ended in May and confirmed at the June 16 reconvened session. CBLAD will become an operational division of DCR joining other program areas such as state parks, soil and water conservation, natural heritage, planning and recreational resources, and dam safety and floodplain management.

Implementation of the Chesapeake Preservation Act will complement DCR's role as the state's lead nonpoint source pollution prevention agency. DCR was also given new responsibilities in stormwater management as the result of separate legislation initiated by Governor Warner and passed unanimously by the 2004 General Assembly.

"Although we only learned of this merger a few weeks ago, staff from both agencies are committed to making this consolidation work as effectively and efficiently as possible", says DCR Director Joseph H. Maroon. "My goal will be to see that the water quality benefits derived from the Chesapeake Bay

Preservation Act continue and that we strengthen dialogue with the affected localities, building industry and conservation community."
CBLAD and DCR staffs are currently meeting to develop plans to integrate numerous functions. Those localities under the preservation act should initially see minimal changes in the technical services and oversight provided by the state.

Scott Crafton will continue to direct the new DCR division implementing the Bay Act. In addition, the Virginia Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board will remain intact.
"I have full faith and confidence in Joe Maroon and Scott Crafton and their staff to make this work," said W. Tayloe Murphy, Jr., Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources. Murphy is the author of the 1988 preservation act that created the Bay department.

The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act calls for the state to work with localities in Eastern Virginia to guide land use and install conservation practices that reduce nonpoint source, or runoff, pollution into the streams that feed the Chesapeake Bay. The act calls for numerous local government regulations regarding land use aimed at benefiting water quality.

DCR has a broad statewide mission that includes technical assistance and funding to prevent runoff pollution from agricultural and developed lands. The agency administers the state's Erosion and Sediment Control Act, the newly defined statewide stormwater management program, the agricultural cost-share and state nutrient management programs. Other DCR duties include managing the Virginia State Park and Natural Area Preserve systems, administering the state's dam safety and flood plain management programs, providing outdoor recreational planning services, inventorying the state's rare and endangered species, and conserving sensitive land resources.


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