Grown Here at Home: How should this land be used? New website intends to help localities make the best decision
BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - As the Commonwealth is establishing goals for renewable energy, more solar farms are popping up across our hometowns. During the Virginia General Assembly session, it was determined there needed to be a resource to help localities pinpoint areas that would be a good fit for solar projects while conserving prime farmland.
The Virginia Cooperative Extension worked with several state agencies, among others, to develop Virginia’s Land Use and Energy Navigator or VaLEN. The interactive map can serve as a guide to help localities make land use decisions based on their specific needs and goals. Dan Goerlich led the work group.
“They had the greater goal, the greater good of Virginians in time and really came together from a variety of interests and backgrounds to provide the best resource and decision-making support that we could,” Goerlich said.
You can search an address or a broad area. To navigate, there are different layers of geographic data you can select to help you get specific information about a piece of land.
“It starts to give a locality a sense of where their sensitive areas are and prime agricultural lands are, where their disturbed lands are and these types of things,” Goerlich explained.
He says using the map can not only help with decisions regarding solar development, but any land use decision. The hope is this tool will help maintain a balance between economic development and conserving our natural resources.
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