Governor McDonnell issued the following statement today as Virginians marked Earth Day. During the past month, the Governor has participated in multiple events surrounding Earth Day, including speaking to environmental leaders at the Environment Virginia Symposium in Lexington, hiking and planting trees with children in Leesylvania State Park, and announcing historic land conservation in Chancellorsville. The Governor has made it a priority of his administration to conserve the Commonwealth's vast natural resources while creating more jobs for Virginians. The Governor's statement is below.
"Here in Virginia, we are blessed with countless beautiful open spaces, scenic rivers, the Chesapeake Bay and rolling mountains. Over the past month, I have traveled throughout Virginia speaking about the need to conserve our natural resources so that they may be enjoyed for generations to come. I was pleased to speak earlier this month at the Environment Virginia Symposium at VMI about the importance of using technology to help conserve the environment. Technological innovations now provide us with the opportunity and the ability to deliver prosperity and a cleaner environment. At Leesylvania State Park, I took a hike with local schoolchildren and planted trees while talking to them about the importance of a clean environment. As a candidate for Governor, I pledged to conserve 400,000 acres of open space in the state, continuing a bipartisan effort led by Speaker Bill Howell and Governor Tim Kaine, and on Tuesday, I was pleased to sign legislation permanently establishing a fund created through a unanimous vote in the General Assembly to conserve more of our historic lands. Tomorrow, I will have the pleasure of celebrating the 40th anniversary of Virginia's tremendous Scenic River program at a ceremony along the banks of the James River in Richmond.
We know that when we take common sense steps to encourage conservation and environmental protection it is good for our environment, our quality of life and our economy. The recent good news that the Blue Crab population in the Chesapeake Bay has increased by 60% since last year, and is now at its highest level since 1997, demonstrates that good public policy will lead to a cleaner and healthier environment. We must continue to work together across party lines to put in place policies that protect our environment while promoting job creation and economic development. I encourage all Virginians to conserve, preserve and give back to clean up our environment, and create a healthy, vibrant and beautiful Virginia for all of us and for future generations to come."