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Soil and Water Conservation Director Virginia Dare District Virginia Beach {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Virginia established Soil and Water Conservation districts to carry out flood prevention and water conservation measures for agricultural and non-agricultural developments, and to develop and implement programs to control and prevent soil erosion. Each city within a Soil and Water Conservation District elects two members to represent their city or country on the Board. The Board then appoints an additional two members.More information about the powers and duties of Soil and Water Conservation Boards in Virginia can be found at https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title10.1/chapter5/

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  • John A. Dickie

  • Francis J. "Frank" Drumm, Jr.

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    Bill W. Fleming

  • Doreen Bender Jackson

  • Leslie A. Jones

  • Russell H. Malbone

  • Marsella S. Sanders

Biographical Information

What is the most pressing issue facing your district and how will you address it? (1000 character limit)

How should Hampton Roads address saltwater intrusion? (1000 character limit)

How do you balance the right of property owners to use their property as they see fit with the right of the surrounding community to a safe, healthy environment? (1000 character limit)

What invasive species should Virginians be most concerned about and what should we be doing? (1000 character limit)

How would you enhance awareness of the activities and value of the Soil and Water Conservation Boards? (1000 character limit)

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Campaign Phone (757) 650-2131
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Biography Retired. VB resident 17+ yrs. Education: AA, BS, JD.In my home town of Rocky Hill, I asked the Town Council for appointment to the Open Space and Conservation Commission. I was appointed for a period in the 1970s and then again in 1994, serving until 2002, the last two years as Chair, Open Space and Conservation Commission. The Commission also served as the town’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency.
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I believe the most pressing issue facing Virginia Dare (Virginia Beach/Chesapeake) is soil and water conservation, non-source pollution and flooding. Virginia Dare, a statutory agency, has limited authority. To the extent that I can, I will ensure that the funds allocated to Virginia Dare are used properly and consistently within its authority. Flooding is a significant issue in our area; but other than being strong advocates for solutions, such as using BMPs in our agricultural and urban communities and conducting environmental education programs, I feel all of the engineering of the necessary physical changes must be left to others.
I am not an engineer. My common sense, however, tells me that keeping saltwater out of one area (ours – with walls, dikes, etc.) simply shifts the burden of it onto others as the water must go somewhere. Naturally, of course, we should not be building or rebuilding in areas regularly or historically flooded.
Virginia Dare can only advocate and educate. And education is a key element. A tenet on which our nation was founded is that with property ownership comes the obligation to not interfere with our neighbors. We are all subject to the limitations imposed on us by federal, state and, particularly, local authority, such as zoning and other reasonable restrictions. Environmental education can help minimize the tension between the two “rights.” Virginia Dare should advocate for policies that have the fewest restrictions that ensure a safe, healthy environment for the community.
Phragmites. For control of this invasive species, I would refer you to the outstanding DCR pamphlet: (www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/O/DEQ/CoastalZoneManagement/task10-03-07.pdf)
I would enhance awareness by continuing to do what I have been doing since I decided to run for a Director’s position: (1) write letters to the editor (I’ve written two) and encourage friends and family to write (they’ve written two); (2) speak of it continually during the term of office (what I do, what others are doing); (3) participate in public gatherings and workshops (advocating for sound, sane solutions to the environmental crisis we find ourselves in) and, lastly, (5) educate our young and not-so-young coastal citizens in environmental stewardship.
Campaign Phone (757) 450-4084
Biography Bill received a BS and PhD in physics from N.C. State University. Bill’s employment includes a postdoctoral fellow at the NIH. a scientist at IBM Research, VP at MILCOM Systems. Bill volunteers with groups including Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. He is a member of the Virginia Association for Biological Farming, is a Tidewater Master Oyster Gardener, took courses on soil microbiology, became a Virginia Master Gardener, attended a USDA workshop on composting, and
Twitter @BillFlemingVA
The most long-term pressing issue is sea level rise and recurrent flooding. If the problems created by these two events are not addressed quickly, much of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake will not exist in any form that we now know. In addition, the effects of flooding and saltwater will destroy much of the agriculture that currently exists.
Hampton Roads should address sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion by building a perimeter of barriers around existing land. Most of these barriers should not be hardened engineered dikes or walls but should be wide berms with shallow slopes that will use wetlands on the waterside to slow down and absorb the energy of both surges and sea-level rise. On the top and landward sides, the barriers would be landscaped with trees. Such a structure initially be perhaps a quarter wide and 8 feet tall. In the future, these barriers could be made taller (for example, 12 feet tall) and wider (perhaps a half-mile wide.

For rivers and the bay, barriers would need to be engineered barriers such as those used on the Thames in England. It would also be possible to incorporate hydroelectric turbines. I do not think that the “swing arm” barrier that has recently been proposed to the City of Virginia Beach will work because the movement of sand will probably keep the barriers from moving.
This issue is perhaps well illustrated by a real example. In the Culpeper area a vegetable farmer needs to use water that is free of E-Coli. When an upstream cattle or dairy farmer lets his cows into the stream on their property, the E-Coli from the cow manure prevents the vegetable farmer from growing and selling his vegetables. The upstream cattle/dairy farmer is harming the vegetable farmer and is also endangering the people that eat the vegetables. In addition, the E-Coli contaminated water goes into the rivers and then the Chesapeake Bay.

Similarly, if a chemical plant on the James River pours chemicals into the river, those chemicals adversely impact the flora and fauna in the river as well as the people who may use the water downstream from the plant. The most glaring example is the Kepone contamination that occurred in the James River. Historically, people have been allowed to do whatever they want to our soils and waters even if it harms others. Others should not suffer.
There are a variety of invasive plants that threaten to overtake our native plants. The Nature Conservancy has programs that are trying to remove concentrations of these invasive plants. The giant hogweed appears to be a serious problem since it is prolific and causes severe burns and possible blindness. We should promote the TNC’s programs.

In addition to invasive plants, we should try to deal with invasive fish and snails. The blue catfish has been taking over our rivers since it was foolishly introduced into our rivers. The snakehead fish is another invasive fish that seems to be competing against our native fish.

Along with trying to remove invasive species, we need to work to restore populations of native plants, fish, and shellfish. Populations of river herring, shad, and alewife have severely declined due to impaired waters and the numerous dams that have kept these fish from spawning. We should also work to improve populations of sturgeon that reproduce in our rivers.
One of the missions of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts is education, but the different boards have largely been focused on children. I feel that the Soil and Water Conservation Districts should increase the education programs to adults by giving presentations on things like soil biology, soil fertility, soil nutrient management, composting, soil improvement, water quality, water contaminants, and water quality improvement to adult groups in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. Such uniform presentations should be provided by all 47 Soil and Water Conservation Districts. These presentations should be provided to community groups such as the Ruritans, Garden Clubs, Master Gardeners, environmental groups, seniors, and minority organizations.
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