Just eleven years after Captain John Smith led the original exploration of the Chesapeake Bay, the Western Hemisphere's oldest legislative body was founded when Virginia's House of Burgesses met in 1619. Much has changed over the subsequent centuries, including the waning health of the Bay and its rivers and streams. The recent 2016 State of the Bay Report reveals the Bay is improving, but much work remains.
Approaching the quadricentennial of House of Burgesses, on February 9 over 50 people descended upon Virginia's Capitol in Richmond to advocate for clean water in Virginia's General Assembly. A crucial week in the legislative session, CBF partnered with the James River Association and Lynnhaven River NOW to bring Virginians from all over the Commonwealth to meet with their Senators and Delegates. They were gracious enough to share with us some thoughts on their experience.
"I'm a kayaker, I'm a kayak fisherman, I'm a canoeist. … You've got to protect the waterways in order for there to be areas that are worth recreating in."
"I think it's important for us to get out and actively engage in the process. That's what it's about. I'm tired of shying away from it and thinking I'll let other people take care of it."
"I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay in Norfolk. Over my lifetime, I'm 60, I've seen the Bay go from not so bad to really bad to better now and so I care a lot about it."
"Today I met my state senator and I spoke with the assistant of our state delegate and I feel so much more empowered. I can just go to their office and talk about it. They are human beings."
"We swim in the water, we boat in the water, we enjoy looking at the water, and we get a lot of sustenance from the water."
"This is the first time lobbying, but I always say that my passion puts me in some uncomfortable places."
"We are concerned about clean water because we like to swim in our creek, for starters, and kayak, and fish. … It's really important for the businesses in the area and for the watermen."
"This is a great opportunity to have an impact and express my views to my representatives."
"We love to eat crabs and oysters and we enjoy the ducks and the rockfish."
"It's nice to hear that our representatives are welcoming for us to visit them...We're cracking open the shell and perhaps we hope it fosters a more active relationship with our legislators in the future."
—Kenny Fletcher, CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator
Couldn't make it to lobby day? Not to fear! Virginian legislators are meeting this week to discuss investing in these critical clean water programs. Take action now to ask them to make the necessary investment in programs that keep the Bay cleanup on target.