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Son-in-law Jared Kushner takes on a major role in Trump's fight with COVID-19. Also, emergency funding for people who can't pay their rent because of the pandemic.

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The Democratic National Committee delayed its July convention in Milwaukee until August. Wisconsin has a primary this Tuesday, but hasn't cancelled or delayed in-person voting like many other states have done.

VA Lawmakers Pressed to Boost Funding for Oyster Restoration

Oysters on Virginia's Lafayette River help maintain clean water on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. (Chesapeake Bay Foundation)
Oysters on Virginia's Lafayette River help maintain clean water on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. (Chesapeake Bay Foundation)
February 26, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- Conservation groups in Virginia are urging state lawmakers to approve a $10 million budget allotment to maintain oyster reefs in the state.

The Commonwealth is home to the world's largest oyster restoration project, which has helped drive ecological recovery in Chesapeake Bay, according to Jackie Shannon, Virginia oyster restoration manager for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

She said shellfish filter pollutants out of the water and oyster restoration has rebuilt the population lost from pollution and over-harvesting.

"Being that there are now more oysters in the waters than there have been in decades," she said, "we feel that it's time to continue investing in this momentum so everything that we've done so far doesn't slip between our fingers."

Last year, Virginia lawmakers approved $4 million for oyster-development projects. With bipartisan support, it looks likely that the General Assembly will approve more funding this year. The two chambers have two weeks to work out spending amounts before the session ends March 7.

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency established a mandate that states reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by 2025. Oyster restoration is key to that goal, since an adult oyster can filter pollution from up to 50 gallons of water per day, according to Ellen Bolen, deputy commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, which manages oyster restoration in the state. She said oysters also provide a vital habitat for the bay's fish.

"They provide an important structure for young fish, particularly nursery areas that support healthy populations of Chesapeake Bay fisheries," she said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reported that, over the past decade, oyster projects in Virginia have restored more than 500 acres of water across five Chesapeake Bay tributaries. That report, via the Pew Charitable Trusts, is online at pewtrusts.org.

Gov. Ralph Northam's budget-proposal announcement is online at governor.virginia.gov.

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Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - VA