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River Cruise Focuses, Stimulates Virginia Local Officials

DSC_0004“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,” wrote William Shakespeare.

And one up-close touch of the Chesapeake Bay late last week led some of the folks directly involved in local Bay cleanup decisions to discover they do indeed have much in common.

The occasion was a Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF)-sponsored trip on the Warwick River in Newport News, Va. Aboard CBF’s Bea Hayman Clark education boat were some 25 local government officials from the nearby localities of Chesapeake, Isle of Wight County, Hampton, James City County, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Smithfield, and Williamsburg. They included city and county planners, agency directors, elected officials, city managers, water utility experts, and interested citizen volunteers.

The purpose of the trip was to allow the beauty and bounty of the Warwick River to stimulate DSC_0044 conversation about local water quality and ways localities can help reduce pollution to restore the Bay.

The river certainly did its part. Under sunny blue skies, the Bea gently motored up the Warwick past quiet marshes, forests, farms, and homes. Keeling gulls and diving terns gave evidence there was plenty of life beneath the green waves.

DSC_0054Tanner Council, CBF Hampton Roads grassroots coordinator, set the tone for the trip by telling guests they all are in unique positions to influence the health of the Bay. That’s because the Bay Clean Water Blueprint, the federal-state plan to restore the Bay by 2025, directs that pollution from all sources be reduced at the local level – stream by stream, river by river, city by city, and county by county.

And most of those aboard the Bea Hayman Clark hold local government jobs or elected positions that impact in some way the local decisions that must be made to advance the Clean Water Blueprint. Their jobs are not easy, the challenges they face are difficult, and ready answers to pressing questions often are hard to find.

But after three hours of gentle cruising, of hearing from Bay experts, of examining Bay critters fished from a trawl net, of sharing ideas, and of brainstorming next steps, the group returned to the dock all smiles, escorted as they were by a playful DSC_0066 pod of bottlenose dolphins.

Most on the trip acknowledged that to succeed in restoring the Bay and its rivers – their rivers, our rivers – all of us must work together.

Certainly there will be disagreements and different approaches, but most on the trip seemed excited about continuing the conversation and collegiality in the months and years to come.

It was a good day on the Bay, for the Bay. To read more about the trip (and view a brief video), click here.

Chuck Epes

Chesapeake Bay Foundation


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Now this is a good thing! Well done CBF
How about the Upper Bay? I'd be interested to see if life is found under the BROWN waves! Maybe the worst parts of the Bay would bring more support by government leaders.

You're right about that, Jack -- more tours of this kind for elected officials across the region would certainly be helpful. We've done similar educational trips before with Maryland officials. But more would be a good idea.

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