The Great Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the basement of the state Capitol.

Survey: 302 bald eagle pairs nesting along James River

RICHMOND — Researchers say the breeding population of bald eagles along the James River has hit a new milestone.

The Center for Conservation Biology, a research group within the College of William & Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University, announced Wednesday that this year’s survey of eagles nesting along the river found 302 pairs.

In previous decades, the species had completely disappeared as a breeder along the river. The center says that makes the new milestone “particularly gratifying.”

Eagle strongholds along the river include the counties of Charles City, James City, Surry and Prince George.

State makes $73M available to protect water, soil health

RICHMOND — Virginia is making a record amount of money available this year to help farmers implement conservation practices.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced $73 million in funding for the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program.

Practices that may be funded through the program include controlling erosion, preserving wetlands and managing nutrients. Northam says the money will help ensure more producers can participate.

State officials say more than $200 million has been distributed to farmers and landowners since the program began in 1984. Individuals, partnerships, trusts and other businesses that operate farms in Virginia may qualify. Applications are first-come, first-served.

Coast Guard investigating illegal boat charters in Va.

PORTSMOUTH — The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating illegal boat charters in Virginia and issuing violations to anyone offering excursions without a license.

In a statement Friday, the Guard warned residents that hiring an unlicensed charter can be dangerous. The Guard said unlicensed outfits might not have adequate emergency gear or proper navigation and communication equipment.

Capt. Kevin Carroll, commander of Sector Hampton Roads, said consumers should be “putting their trust in properly credentialed mariners who are capable of transporting them safely.” He warned people to be “vigilant and inquisitive” when hiring a boat for any excursion.

The Guard said unlicensed vessel operators need to be aware that taking members of the public out for hire is illegal and not a legitimate way of supplementing income.

Va. student caused $690K in hotel damage, suit says

DUMFRIES — A hotel’s insurance company has sued a Virginia Beach high school student who it claims caused more than $690,000 in damage by activating a sprinkler inside a room.

Landstown High School senior Cade Anderson stayed at the hotel in Dumfries on Oct. 20, 2017, ahead of a junior ROTC drill competition the next day, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

Anderson’s attorney says his client hung his uniform on a sprinkler to properly affix all of the ribbons and medals. When he took the uniform down, the sprinkler activated.

Prince William County Assistant Fire Chief Matt Smolsky says 10 rooms, the hotel’s kitchen and dining area flooded. Anderson’s room was on the fourth floor. His father’s homeowner’s insurance policy is paying for his defense. The company has asked the federal judge if it can be removed from the case.

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— From wire reports

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