Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: December 15, 2021
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alenaa Yarmosky,

Governor Northam Announces Historic Investments in Cultural and Natural Resource Conservation

Funding will conserve historic landmarks of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and re-acquire land for Tribal Nations

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today continued his ‘Thank you, Virginia’ Tour, announcing that his proposed budget includes $10 million to conserve historic and cultural sites that are important to Virginia’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and $12 million in one-time funding for Tribal land re-acquisition. These proposals are part of Virginia’s ongoing commitment to pursue historic justice and protect and conserve places that make the Commonwealth special.
“Protecting the historic landmarks of all people helps us tell a more inclusive and accurate story of the past,” said Governor Northam. “All of Virginia’s history deserves to be told and this funding will make that happen.”
The proposal dedicates $10 million over two years to establish the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Conservation Fund to conserve historic and cultural sites. Legislation will be introduced in the 2022 session to make this funding permanent, ensuring conservation efforts will continue. The fund will be the first in the Commonwealth dedicated to conserving, rehabilitating, and interpreting the historic landmarks of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. This fund will protect historic schools, churches, cemeteries, burial sites, sacred Tribal sites, and other endangered historic sites in Virginia.
The Virginia Outdoors Foundation will receive $12 million in the budget to help Tribal Nations acquire and protect their ancestral and historic land. In 2021, Governor Northam’s budget provided a one-time appropriation for the Chickahominy Indian Tribe to acquire historic land called Peace Hill Mamanahunt. The outgoing budget provides the other Tribal Nations in Virginia with a similar opportunity to acquire and preserve ancestral lands of significance to ensure Tribes have a place to continue sacred traditions, share their stories and celebrate their rich history. 
“Today marks an important step in our efforts to build a more equitable Commonwealth,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “Access and ownership of traditional tribal lands allows for cultural and historic preservation as well as economic empowerment for Tribal Nations. This is an important moment of historic justice as the Commonwealth takes another step towards restoring trust with this community and others by investing in the preservation of  historic and ancestral sites of Tribal Nations and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color." 
“Land conservation has many purposes. It protects scenic vistas and viewsheds, supports wildlife and ecosystem health, and provides places for outdoor recreation,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Ann Jennings. “Governor Northam's investments and creation of a BIPOC conservation fund shows conservation must also play an important role in ensuring historic justice and that places of importance to all Virginians are protected in perpetuity.”
The Governor was joined by Tribal Nations, Indigenous Community members, and historic justice and natural conservation stakeholders during his announcement at Mantle: The Virginia Indian Monument at Capitol Square. 
Virginia Promotes Inclusion & Transparency 
Governor Northam assembled a leadership team that reflects Virginia’s diversity. He led the most diverse Administration in Virginia history—including the first-ever majority-female cabinet
  • Under Governor Northam’s leadership, Virginia now requires all state agencies and state higher-education institutions to establish and maintain a comprehensive plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Governor Northam established the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and appointed the country’s first Cabinet-level Chief Diversity Officer.
  • Virginia saw removal of statues dedicated to lost causes, thanks to partnership between Governor Northam, the General Assembly, and the Office of Attorney General Mark Herring. These include the statue of Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond (the largest Confederate monument in the country), the statue of Harry Byrd Sr. on Capitol Square, the Robert E. Lee statue at the United States Capitol, and the Arch honoring Confederate Jefferson Davis at Fort Monroe. Governor Northam signed legislation to give localities the authority to remove monuments.
  • Virginia established user-friendly dashboards to provide a snapshot of the progress made across the COVID-19 response, and to assess social determinants of health and other factors contributing to health equity.
  • Virginia created the Office of New Americans to promote the economic and civic success of Virginia’s diverse immigrant communities.
  • Governor Northam delivered the most diverse slate of appointments to state boards and commissions in Virginia history. Virginia established the first-ever African American Advisory Board and the first-ever LGBTQIA+ Advisory Board to advise and produce policy recommendations to the Governor.
  • Governor Northam is the first to have installed constituency-specific outreach directors and regional leaders to elevate the voices of historically-excluded communities.
  • Virginia negotiated and passed a bipartisan regulatory reform bill to reduce or streamline regulatory requirements by 25% over three years.

# # #