Bye, bye, balloons: Certain balloon releases prohibited in the Commonwealth

Smith Mountain Lake Pirate Days is on July 16, but you shouldn’t see balloons in the sky

RICHMOND, Va. – No more releasing balloons intentionally, that is.

With the Smith Mountain Lake Pirate Days event coming on July 16, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources is reminding Virginia citizens of the new regulation that went into effect on July 1, which bans citizens from intentionally releasing or discarding any non-biodegradable or non-photodegradable balloons outdoors in the Commonwealth.

The regulation says that the intentional release of non-biodegradable or non-photodegradable balloons by individuals 16 and older will result in receiving a civil penalty of $25 per balloon released and that if the person is under 16, the adult will be liable for the penalty.

The regulation notes that it does not apply to any balloon:

  • released by or for a Commonwealth or United States agency,
  • released following a contract for scientific or meteorological purposes,
  • that classifies as a hot air balloon recovered after launch.

Sergeant Tim Dooley with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources said that informing citizens is important, especially in times when regulations have changes going into place.

“It is our intention to address any violations we observe,” said Sergeant Tim Dooley with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. “This can be done in a variety of ways to include educating the individuals regarding the changes to the code or, if warranted, an official warning or summons may be issued.”

You can read the full regulation here.

About the Author:

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.