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VaNews

Monday January 20, 2020

EXECUTIVE BRANCH


GUN-RIGHTS ACTIVISTS GEAR UP FOR SHOW OF FORCE IN VIRGINIA

By ALAN SUDERMAN AND DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

Police are scouring the internet for clues about plans for mayhem, workers are putting up chain link holding pens around Virginia's picturesque Capitol Square, and one lawmaker even plans to hide in a safe house in advance of what's expected to be an unprecedented show of force by gun-rights activists.


THOUSANDS EXPECTED IN RICHMOND AS CAPITOL READIES FOR MASSIVE GUN RALLY MONDAY

By MARIE ALBIGES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Thousands of people are expected to converge at Virginia’s Capitol on Monday to protest proposed changes to gun laws during a holiday traditionally reserved for lawmakers and the public to meet. Richmond is under a state of emergency declared by Gov. Ralph Northam, who said the annual lobby day and rally has drawn the attention of militia and out-of-state groups who have come to “intimidate” and “cause harm.”


RICHMOND BRACES FOR GIANT GUN RIGHTS RALLY ON MONDAY

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER AND LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The convoys and militias are coming, if social media posts are to be believed, headed to Virginia's capital to take a stand for gun rights — or, in the words of some, to fan the flames of a civil war. “I’ll be rolling into town early. I can’t give you my exact time for security reasons,” said Christian Yingling, head of the Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia and a leader at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017.


AS GUN-RIGHTS SUPPORTERS PLAN PEACEFUL RALLY IN RICHMOND, STATE WARNS EXTREMISTS COULD POSE THREAT.

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Hours before dawn on Monday, a bus packed with gun-rights advocates is scheduled to leave Pulaski County on a 230-mile trek to Richmond. Don Holt, whose sporting goods store is chartering the bus, isn’t expecting a single empty seat. Holt, 62, said there’s much energy and anticipation leading up to a rally Monday


VIRGINIA’S CAPITAL BRACES FOR GUN-RIGHTS RALLY

By ALAN SUDERMAN AND SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Virginia’s capital city is bracing for the expected arrival of thousands of gun-rights activists and other groups that have vowed to descend on Richmond to protest Democrats’ plans to pass gun-control legislation. Gov. Ralph Northam declared a temporary state of emergency days ahead of Monday’s rally, banning all weapons including guns from the event on Capitol Square. Militia groups and white supremacists were among those expected to mix with gun-rights activists,


A LOOK AT EXPECTED PARTICIPANTS IN MONDAY'S GUN RALLY

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

State officials and U.S. hate-monitoring groups are warning about the potential for violence ahead of a gun-rights rally in Virginia that's expected to draw a mix of militias, firearms advocates and white supremacists to Richmond. Citing credible threats of violence, Gov. Ralph Northam declared a temporary state of emergency days ahead of Monday’s rally, banning all weapons, including guns, from Capitol Square.


WHAT DID VIRGINIA LEARN FROM CHARLOTTESVILLE?

By NICHOLAS BOGEL-BURROUGHS, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Opposing protesters were squeezed together. Law enforcement agencies failed to communicate. Officials falsely believed that weapons could not be banned. These were among the problems that plagued officials in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, according to a report published that year on the extremist rallies where hundreds of people descended on the city and one woman was killed by a white supremacist.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY


SPEAKER RESPONDS TO GOP CONCERN ABOUT HOW HOUSE IS FUNCTIONING

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The House of Delegates has yet to pass a bill in the first 10 days of a 60-day General Assembly session — and that has Republicans loudly questioning the new Democratic majority’s ability to govern. The answer from the Speaker of the House is, just watch us. “We’re ready,” House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, said in an interview Friday. “We are governing, and we will continue to do so successfully.”


DEMOCRATS ASK WHERE GOP LEADER'S PRIORITIES ARE

By MAX THORNBERRY, Northern Virginia Daily

Democrats fired back at Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Mount Jackson, on Friday afternoon after he questioned their leadership in the 2020 General Assembly session. According to statistics available on Virginia’s Legislative Information Site, the delegates have introduced more than 1,700 bills, 149 joint resolutions and 22 house resolutions.


HOUSE PANEL MAY LOSE “KILLING FIELDS” REPUTATION FOR CRIMINAL LAW REFORM

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The words of the formula are the same. But the old result, failure of criminal law reforms in a subcommittee long called “the killing fields,” is changing now that Democrats have won control of the General Assembly. The words addressed to a legislator proposing a new law — “What is the problem and how does your bill fix it?” — echo a traditional formula set for two decades by GOP chairs of the House of Delegates’ criminal law subcommittee, a key General Assembly gatekeeper.


'FACING A DIRE NEED' FOR FUNDING FOR SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION, VIRGINIA LAWMAKERS PITCH PROPOSALS

By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

In some public schools across Virginia, rainwater leaks into classrooms, teachers turn on dehumidifiers so posters don’t peel off the walls, ceiling tiles are falling, mold grows in the walls and rats scurry around floors. Schools — especially those in rural and urban communities — are crumbling, and school officials describe the situation as dire. More than a year ago, Sen. Bill Stanley , R-Franklin County, began leading an effort


COLLEGE SPENDING, BOARD DECISIONS ARE TARGETS OF VIRGINIA HIGHER ED BILLS

By HENRI GENDREAU, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Higher education is a billion-dollar industry — with Virginia Tech and Radford University among the region’s major economic drivers. So universities’ costs and governing decisions are on the minds of a few lawmakers as Virginia’s General Assembly on Friday wrapped up its final week to propose legislation this session. Numerous bills dealing with higher education in 2020 revolve around transparency and accountability:


A BATTLE OVER SECRET RECORDS IS BREWING IN RICHMOND.

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A clash over the public’s right to see how Virginia courts are run is sparking a challenge to one of the basics of American politics: the checks and balances of the three branches of government. Legislators from both parties, upset by the Virginia Supreme Court’s declaration last year that the state Freedom of Information Act doesn’t apply to the court system’s administrative agency, the Office of the Executive Secretary, have introduced bills to say it does.


VCU HEALTH EXPLORING COMMUNITY COLLABORATIONS FOR GUARDIANSHIP CASES

By BRIDGET BALCH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

VCU Health System is in discussions with community partners to “explore possible collaborations” regarding its guardianship practices, according to a hospital spokesperson, and lawmakers are considering changes to how the process works.


SKILL MACHINES LAWSUIT AGAINST PLATANIA COULD BE MADE MOOT BY LEGISLATION

By TYLER HAMMEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Proposed legislation could render moot a recently remanded lawsuit filed against Charlottesville’s commonwealth’s attorney by skill machine to circuit court manufacturers. Last month, the manufacturers, who are plaintiffs in a suit against city Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania, requested the lawsuit be remanded to the circuit court and filed an amended complaint that removed federal issues.


WILT TO CHANGE BEEHIVE DISTRIBUTION PROGRAM

By JESSICA WETZLER, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

When Del. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway, looked to create the Beehive Distribution Program in 2018, he didn’t know how much of a buzz it would be — or that it would run out of beehives to give away in less than a year. Through the beehive distribution program that passed the General Assembly in 2018, any individual registered with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a beekeeper may apply to VDACS for no more than three beehive units per year.


DEL. JOSH COLE WANTS STUDY ON FORMING FREDERICKSBURG REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Freshman 28th District Del. Joshua Cole has introduced a pair of bills aimed at issues some local officials believe are crucial to transportation in the Fredericksburg area. One of the bills seeks changes to the state’s Smart Scale program, which scores and ranks projects for state funding. The other bill asks for a study to establish a transportation authority for the district, which could levy a special tax to generate funds for local transportation projects.


VIRGINIA TEENS ADVOCATE FOR SEIZURE SAFE SCHOOL LEGISLATION

By JESSICA NOLTE, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Rowena and Thomas Gesick take turns sleeping in their daughter’s room every night so they can monitor her for seizures while she sleeps. But when Brie goes to school in the morning, no one there is required to know how to recognize and respond to seizures. Two families — the Gesick family from Virginia Beach and the Van Cleave family from Yorktown — want to change that, so they’re advocating for Seizure Safe Schools legislation in Virginia.


LEGISLATION MAKING MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS AVAILABLE TO VIRGINIA STUDENTS MOVES ON TO FULL SENATE

By MICHAEL POPE, WVTF

Evie Garces-Foley is a high school student in Falls Church, and she travelled to Richmond to explain to lawmakers the importance of having menstrual products available to students. “I got my period in the middle of a standardized test in ninth grade, and there wasn’t anything I could do because there weren't any products in the bathroom for me to be able to use," she said. "And I couldn’t ask a friend because everyone was testing. So I kind of just sat there miserable.”


HUDSON INTRODUCES BILL REMOVING LIMITS ON CITY COUNCILOR PAY

By NOLAN STOUT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Freshman Del. Sally Hudson, D-Charlottesville, has filed legislation that would remove salary limits for city councils, a measure her predecessor opposed. Hudson’s House Bill 1108 also would indirectly remove limits on salaries for elected city school boards.


NEWMAN, PEAKE BACK STATE BUDGET REQUEST TO BEGIN PAYING OFF OUTSTANDING DEBT AT CVTC

By JUSTIN FAULCONER, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

As the Central Virginia Training Center edges closer to closure this summer, two area lawmakers are pushing for a state budget amendment that aims to begin the process of paying off the outstanding debt on the Amherst County facility’s newer buildings.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS


PAMUNKEY TRIBE TO DEVELOP CASINO IN RICHMOND. WHAT'S THE IMPACT FOR MGM?

By KATISHI MAAKE, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe announced Friday plans to develop a $350 million resort and casino in Richmond, Virginia, a facility that could chip away at MGM National Harbor's dominance in the greater region.


CHIEF, OTHERS DISCUSS CASINO PLANS AT THE PINNACLE IN WASHINGTON COUNTY

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Richard Sneed looks at The Pinnacle’s vacant Virginia land and sees opportunity. Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians since 2017, Sneed sat down for an interview with the Bristol Herald Courier last Wednesday at the Tribal Council House in Cherokee. Sneed is prepared to invest $200 million of the tribe’s money to establish a resort casino and hotel overlooking Interstate 81

TRANSPORTATION


METRO RIDERSHIP CONTINUES TO RISE, STATISTICS SHOW

By JUSTIN GEORGE, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The annual downward spiral of ridership losses came to an end for Metrorail in 2019, according to the transit authority, which reported a 4 percent increase in passenger trips last year compared with 2018. Ridership statistics released Wednesday showed Metro’s ridership grew by an average of 20,000 trips per weekday compared with 2018.


I–95 STUDY IS COMPLETE

By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The results of the Interstate 95 corridor study are in, and the details will be covered in several upcoming meetings, the first of which will be held in Stafford County. The study is tackling problems on the 179 miles of I–95 in the state, primarily dealing with congestion and crashes.

VIRGINIA OTHER


SURRY-SKIFFES CREEK POWER LINE ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY DRAFT DELAYED

By JACK JACOBS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Army Corps of Engineers has a new timeline on when a draft version of its environmental study of the Surry-Skiffes Creek power line will be available for public review. The document is now expected this spring, months later than a previous projection.


HISTORIC NUKE PLANT IN VIRGINIA TO BE FULLY DISMANTLED

By LUKE LUKERT, WTOP

The first nuclear power facility providing electricity to the U.S. power grid is nearing the final steps of dismantling. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed in Dec., 2019 to fully remove the SM-1 Reactor Facility at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, and remove any remaining structures and equipment.

LOCAL


RICHMOND SCHOOLS TO CLOSE FOR JAN. 27 TEACHER RALLY

Associated Press

Richmond’s schools superintendent says so many teachers are planning to attend a rally at the state Capitol next week in support of increased school funding the district needs to cancel classes. Richmond Public Schools released a statement from Superintendent Jason Kamras on Sunday that announced schools would be closed on Monday, Jan. 27.


IN STILL-REELING VA. BEACH, A TENSE DEBATE OVER GUNS

By MICHAEL E. MILLER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The gun owners crowded into the Freedom Shooting Center meeting room Friday night until it was jammed with 200 men and women wearing hunting camo, "tyranny" T-shirts and Trump gear. They traded warnings about a raft of new gun-control bills being considered by the Virginia General Assembly and made plans to join thousands of gun rights activists for a massive rally in Virginia’s capital Monday.


VIRGINIA BEACH’S NEW FLOODING MODELS ARE AS ADVANCED AS ANY IN THE UNITED STATES

By PETER COUTU, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Years ago, the mission of Virginia Beach’s new stormwater engineering center was laid out by then City Manager Dave Hansen, when he told them: “‘Don’t let another Ashville Park happen.’” That upscale neighborhood in southern Virginia Beach has become practically synonymous with poor planning, providing perhaps the starkest example of the damage — impassable roads and homes and cars flooded — caused by an inadequate stormwater system.


VIRGINIA BEACH LOOKS TO REDUCE PANHANDLING

By STACY PARKER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A man stands on the grassy corner of Virginia Beach Boulevard and Constitution Drive clutching a painter’s pole with a red bucket attached to one end. In the other hand, he holds a cardboard sign with three lines of handwritten words in all caps: “IN NEED ANYTHING HELPS." He’s one of dozens of people who spend their days at busy intersections


FREDERICK COUNTY JOINING W.VA. A 'VERY INTERESTING LEGAL DISCUSSION'

By JOSH JANNEY, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The cordial invitation West Virginia extended to Frederick County to join the Mountain State won't likely amount to anything, but the idea of Virginia's northernmost county jumping the state line certainly has people talking. Online responses to a recent Winchester Star article about the proposition ranged from "Hell No!!!" to "I'll think about it" to "Of all the hare-brained ideas this takes the cake." But it also got people on this side of the border thinking. "Better yet, make Northern Virginia and D.C. its own state,"


FLOYD MILITIA HEARS CALL TO PREPARE FOR SACRIFICE — AND REGISTER TO VOTE

By MIKE GANGLOFF, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A small, well-armed crowd gathered in a chilly park Saturday for a muster of “the Unorganized Militia of Floyd County,” an event called to rally opposition to gun control proposals. “No leader of a free people has a reason to fear an armed populace,” David Worley said during a brief address that began the muster.

EDITORIALS


MONDAY'S RALLY WILL BRING GUNS AND GOVERNMENT TO THE FOREFRONT

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

On Monday, thousands of gun rights supporters from across Virginia — and beyond — are expected to descend upon the state Capitol grounds to protest gun control legislation pending before the General Assembly. This has been no secret. Every year on the state and federal holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Second Amendment advocates hold their annual lobby day to meet with lawmakers and rally.


SOME ADVICE FOR GUN LOBBY DAY PARTICIPANTS: LEAVE YOUR GUNS AT HOME

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Monday is gun lobby day in Virginia. Thousands of gun rights advocates — by some wild estimates up to 50,000 or 100,000 — are scheduled to show up in Richmond to make their case against the gun bills under deliberation by legislators. Based on what’s happened in the past, many of those people will be armed. Some friendly advice: This is a bad idea


GUN RALLY IS NO PLACE FOR WEAPONS

Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Monday's planned Second Amendment rally at the State Capitol Building in Richmond will be nominally “gun-free” after Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency last Wednesday, temporarily banning all firearms on the capitol grounds between Friday and Tuesday due to what he said were “credible threats” of violence. The area around the Capitol is fenced off and surrounding streets will be closed to traffic.


LOCAL AUTONOMY IMPORTANT TO STATUES ISSUE

Daily Progress Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

“That government is best which governs least,” Henry David Thoreau affirmed. It’s a quote often wrongly attributed to Thomas Jefferson. But regardless of its pedigree, it’s often cited by conservatives to support the concept of limited government. From that perspective, then, state government should not be telling local governments what they can do with their public parks.


ANOTHER STEP FORWARD FOR RURAL BROADBAND

News & Advance Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Earlier this month, residents of eight Central and Southside Virginia counties got a belated Christmas present from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA announced it was extending a $48 million loan to a North Carolina-based communications company to install more than 1,200 miles of fiber optic cable to create an internet network


TO BUILD AN AREA, REGION MUST WORK TOGETHER

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

There is ample reason to believe that a state-of-the-art arena would be a tremendous asset to Hampton Roads, providing the region with the sort of high-capacity multipurpose venue that is a feature of many major American cities. To build one, however, it’s essential that the cities here work constructively and cooperatively in order to share both the cost of construction and the resulting revenue.


FREDERICK COULD VOTE TO JOIN WEST VIRGINIA ANYTIME

Winchester Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Imagine a 158-year-old invitation laying dormant until discovered by a state senator researching the 100th anniversary of the creation of his state. Imagine, too, this same politician shepherding a resolution through his political body essentially extending the invitation — still assumed valid after a Supreme Court decision in 1870 — to the locality in question.

OP-ED


MORSE: WITH RALLY ON MONDAY, VIRGINIA FACES A RECKONING ON GUN LAWS

By GORDON C. MORSE, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Guns save lives and vaccines don’t. So, say some of our fellow Americans and they mean to prevail on those points. Back in 1984, when I was writing editorials for the Daily Press, around 350 people packed Hampton City Hall, sporting stickers and holding signs that said, “Crab Smells Good.”

Gordon C. Morse began his writing career with the Daily Press editorial page in 1983, then moved across the water to write opinion for The Virginian-Pilot. He later joined the administration of Gerald L. Baliles as the governor's speechwriter


KEANE: PROPOSAL TO BAN INDOOR RANGES WILL KILL SMALL BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY SAFETY

By LAWRENCE G. KEANE, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Recently elected Del. Dan Helmer, D-Fairfax, has introduced legislation that not only defies the concepts of common sense and gun safety, but also would crush small businesses in Virginia. HB 567 would make private, indoor gun ranges illegal in the commonwealth. Helmer’s reasoning, according to a statement posted on Twitter, is “... it’s dangerous to have gun ranges in offices with many employees in light of recent workplace shootings.”

Lawrence G. Keane is the senior vice president of government relations and public affairs and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry’s trade association.


KLEM AND SCHOOMAKER: UNRESTRICTED ACCESS TO GUNS MAKES OUR FAMILIES, COMMUNITIES LESS SAFE

By SARAH KLEM AND HEIDI SCHOOMAKER, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

As a kid in Short Pump, one of us found a rifle in her parents’ closet. Sarah thought it was a toy, so she played with it. It wasn’t until years later that she realized that toy was, in fact, a very real rifle. A 3-year-old boy in Colonial Heights last August wasn’t so fortunate. Children all over Virginia have been killed because of unsafely stored guns.

Sarah Klem is a recent graduate of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Heidi Schoomaker is a medical student who has studied the effects of health inequities.


LEVITT: DEMOCRATS WRONG TO PIVOT ON REDISTRICTING

By JUSTIN LEVITT, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

In the past decade, Virginia’s electoral maps have brought repeated waves of litigation. Twelve different lawsuits, including five trips to the U.S. Supreme Court, with the costs borne by Virginia taxpayers. Both federal and state districts were struck down, leaving the state map up in the air until earlier this year — nine years after lines were supposed to be final.

Justin Levitt, a national expert on redistricting and election law, is a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.


GREENFIELD: FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE IN THE RICHMOND REGION, WE NEED TO START WITH HOUSING

By ELIZABETH HANCOCK GREENFIELD, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

January is filled with resolutions as we look forward to all the possibilities of a new year. Borrowing from this tradition, I’d like to propose a resolution for the Richmond region. As our region grows and matures, so does our need for a mix of stable and affordable housing options that enhance the characteristics that make Richmond unique.

Elizabeth Hancock Greenfield is the executive director of the Partnership for Housing Affordability, a local nonprofit organization founded in 2004 that serves as the philanthropic extension of the Richmond Association of Realtors.


BARRY: PROTECTING OUR LAND, WATER SHOULD BE CONGRESSIONAL PRIORITY

By JAMES BARRY, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Since I was a young man in the Boy Scouts, canoe trips, hunting and camping in the swamps and rivers of southeastern Virginia and northeast North Carolina have been an integral part of my life. Being in nature in places such as Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains has forever been a way of clearing my mind and bringing the present moment into focus.

James Barry is a U.S. Army veteran and a resident of Virginia Beach.


GIBSON: STUDENT JOURNALISM DESERVES PROTECTION

By BOB GIBSON, Published in the Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Journalism, especially newspapers, endured some tough times during the past decade, including layoffs, buyouts and massive shrinkage in newsrooms and investigative resources. There is some light at the end of that tumultuous tunnel, however, as a number of former journalists elected to state legislatures are fighting to strengthen the institution that America’s founding generation saw as a necessary bulwark for democracy.

Gibson is communications director and senior researcher at the University of Virginia’s Cooper Center for Public Service. The opinions expressed here are his own


MOORE: IT’S TIME TO TAKE POLITICS OUT OF FISHERIES

By CHRIS MOORE, Published in the Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

For once, the Trump administration has made a good decision for the environment and the Chesapeake Bay. Now it’s up to Virginia’s General Assembly to make sure it sticks. This legislative session, it’s time to take politics out of fisheries.

Chris Moore is the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s senior regional ecosystem scientist.