State of Virginia’s Environment

Steven Roble presents on insects of Virginia.

Steven Roble presents on insects of Virginia.

On May 21, 2015, Adrie and I spent the day at the Environmental Symposium organized by the Virginia Academy of Sciences at their annual meeting held this year at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. There were two sessions, the one we attended which dealt with the various organisms (Plants, Fish, Insects, etc) and another one dealing with ecosystems (Rivers, Forests, Tidal Wetlands, etc). See list of presenters below.

Most of the speakers in our session began with a brief introduction to their particular type of organism; it felt a little like being back in Basic Training, which was good, because everyone can use a little review, right? Then it was on to a description of the current state of affairs. Not surprisingly, many life forms in Virginia are endangered, and in most cases, the principal underlying causes are habitat loss and climate change.

Just before lunch, we were addressed by Molly Ward, Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources, who talked about her path from Hampton city treasurer to her current position. She reiterated some of what we had been hearing in the scientific talks, since as a resident of the Tidewater area, she has seen up close the effects of development and sea level rise.

We enjoyed meeting Master Naturalists from the Central Blue Ridge Chapter based in Nelson County, the Old Rag Chapter which covers Madison, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Orange, and Fauquier Counties and the Banshee Reeks Chapter out of Loudoun County. These far traveling naturalists made us feel fortunate that this unique opportunity was practically in our backyard, accessible by bicycle.

All-in-all, the Symposium was very well organized, and very well worth attending.

– Carl Droms, Cohort II, May 2015

TV3VAEnvironmnet.250Find WHSV TV-3’s report on this event by clicking on the image to the right.

See Elaina Sauber’s article in the May 22, 2015, Daily News-Record about the symposium here: Virginia’s Environmental Health In Question

The presenters were as follows:

Air Quality, Dr. James Blando, School of Community & Environmental Health, Old Dominion University

Amphibians, Dr. Jennifer Sevin, Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, Virginia Tech & Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution and John Kleoper, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Birds, Dr. Bryan Watts, Director, Center for Conservation Biology of the College of William and Mary & Virginia Commonwealth University

Fish, Dr. Paul Angermeier, Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit & Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech and Mike Pinder, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Forests, Dr. Christine Small, Biology Department, Radford University

Geology, David Spears, State Geologist, Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy

Insects, Dr. Steve Roble, Natural Heritage Program, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Land Use, Dr. David S. Hardin, Department of Biology & Environmental Science, Longwood University

Mammals, Dr. Nancy D. Moncrief, Virginia Museum of Natural History and Dr. John F. Pagels, Department of Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University & Research Associate, Virginia Museum of Natural History

Mollusks, Dr. Jess W. Jones, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service & Co-Director, Freshwater Mollusks Conservation Center, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech

Ocean & Marine Environments, Dr. Larry Atkinson and Dr. Tal Ezer, Department of Ocean, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Old Dominion University

Plants, Dr. Mike Renfroe, Department of Biology, James Madison University

Reptiles, Dr. Tom Akre, Director, Virginia Working Landscapes, Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Rivers in Central Virginia, Dr. Paul Bukaveckas, Department of Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University

Tidal Wetlands, Dr. William G. Reay, Director, Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Water Quality, Dr. R. Christian Jones, Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center, George Mason University