04/18/2012 - LEXINGTON, Va. — The 23rd edition of Virginia's premier environmental summit, held April 10-12 on the historic campus of Virginia Military Institute, attracted more than 700 environmental stewards from throughout Virginia's public-private sectors as well as non-governmental agencies.
Together, they exchanged information, technology and ideas aimed at contributing to a prosperous economic and environmentally sustainable future.
Environmental scientists and other staff of Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers attended the Environment Virginia Symposium, along with Col. Paul Olsen, the district's new commander and Michael Darrow, chief, Water Resources Division. The district's educational exhibit was on full display and staffed by environmental scientists in the Medal of Honor Hall at the George C. Marshall Center for Leadership and Ethics.
Olsen said he was honored to attend this important environmental symposium, with its theme: "Sustainable Solutions for Uncertain Times," and relished the opportunity to meet with and learn from so many diverse industry leaders who, like he, embrace environmental sustainment.
Shortly after assuming command of Norfolk District on March 16, Olsen was quick to convey to the district team his two environmental imperatives: "Building Strong" implies "Building Smart."
"Through combined education and dedication," Olsen said during his change of command remarks, "we balance our nation's passion to build with its responsibility to protect."
Keith Lockwood, chief, Norfolk District Operation's Technical Support Section, led a symposium break-out session on the district's Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area in Portsmouth, Va. Lockwood touched on the strategic importance of the dredged material site, but his main focus was on the growing popularity of the site as an important habitat, nesting and bird-watching area for several species of local and migratory birds.
Michelle Hamor, chief of the Flood Plain Management Section, Norfolk District, led a presentation on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Silver Jackets program and the establishment of a Virginia team. The Silver Jacket program seeks to bring together federal, state, tribal and local agencies to learn from one another and jointly apply resources to reduce flood risk. The Virginia team has been active since June 2010, and signed a formal charter in December 2010.
The Virginia team is comprised of representatives from USACE, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Weather Service River Forecast Centers and Weather Offices, U.S. Geological Survey, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
Following the presentation, Hamor paneled a question and answer session regarding floodplain management and dam safety initiatives, including the Virginia Silver Jackets Pilot Project, Flood Risk Information System.
Tom Tracy, executive director of Virginia Turfgrass Council, based in Virginia Beach, Va., called the symposium an absolute success.
"Every year I attend this symposium, I'm simply amazed at what new technology is emerging," Tracy said. "Moreover, I always leave here with my environmental tool box brimming with new, innovative ideas and solutions."