Our Coalition speaker for January 2017 was Richard Baugh, long-time Harrisonburg resident, lawyer and three-term City Council member. He serves the Commonwealth in many ways, and got the CAAV steering committee up to speed on several matters. We were especially interested to hear from him about his service to the Chesapeake Bay Program and his appointment as the Council liaison to the new Environmental Performance Advisory Committee.
He was appointed to the Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) to the Chesapeake Bay Program by Gov. McAuliffe three years ago. The LGAC is one of three advisory committees to the Chesapeake Bay Program along with a science committee and a citizen’s committee. They work with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Governor’s office on the many issues affecting the Bay. While historically the LGAC had the least clout it is now the most engaged of the three. Richard thinks that over the years, its standards have moved from aspirational to requirements for action. Of the other states that border on or impact the watershed, Delaware has now appointed someone, and a representative from West Virginia now attends the meetings.
Storm water requirements have driven some of the engagement. Counties in Virginia are all over the map in their level of compliance: Harrisonburg is doing well; King George’s Co. still has ditches that must serve as storm drains.
Richard is the first person from the Shenandoah Valley to serve on the LGAC. Appointees are, of course, subject to change with elections.
A major failure in the system is that regional groups really don’t have an easy way to talk with each other. The Virginia Municipal League set up a session for regional level communication, but when it happened, the city representatives there wanted to talk with other city reps, town reps with town reps and county reps with other county reps. So it didn’t work well to foster communication on a regional level. But it wasn’t that communication isn’t needed or desired.
Concerning the newly appointed Environmental Performance Advisory Committee, Richard understands that there is a lack of clarity on what the body is expected to do. The mandate is fairly broad, however, and that presents an opportunity for the members to help formulate their agenda. It is his hope that they will help the planning commission and city council with particular issues, reminding them that the group exists to advise. He is optimistic that this volunteer group can help in many of the ways that the proposed full-time sustainability coordinator might have done, on a full range of environmental issues in the city. They will need staff connection and Richard will be finding out which department(s) will be affiliated with them. Community Development and Public Works are the most likely.
Thanks Richard! We learned a lot from you.
– Anne Nielsen, for the CAAV Coalition-Building Committee
Each month, the CAAV Coalition Building Committee invites a community member or group to present to the CAAV steering committee about projects with which they are involved. We are grateful to be working with so many other groups and individuals passionate about creating a more resilient, healthy and just world.