Virginia Coastal Program: 2005 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

FY2005 Task 91

Grantee:

Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Special Area Management Plan for Dragon Run

Project Description as Proposed:

The Dragon Run SAMP mission is to preserve the watershedÂ’s cultural, historic, and natural character, while preserving property rights and the watershedÂ’s traditional uses (e.g. forestry, farming, recreation). Anticipating future growth pressures, the Dragon Run SAMP seeks to balance demands by improving the tools available to manage the environmental, social, and economic resources of the watershed. To achieve these goals, the Dragon Run Steering Committee has produced a Watershed Management Plan. The SAMPÂ’s stakeholder-based approach increases the likelihood that localities and stakeholders will implement the planÂ’s recommendations. The planÂ’s recommendations include land use and resource preservation, education and landowner stewardship, sustainable economic development, and implementation monitoring. The following activities are proposed for FY05:

1)Assist each watershed county in adoption of the Draft Comprehensive Plan and/or Zoning Amendment

2) Administer an education program to inform decision-makers and citizens about critical watershed issues to facilitate Watershed Management Plan implementation; hold a community watershed festival featuring SAMP projects

3) Administer a technical assistance program that supports the implementation of the Watershed Management Plan, including coordination of invasive species assessment, monitoring, and control

4) Produce a report with recommendations for management of public and non-governmental organization holdings acquired for conservation

5) Encourage compatible economic development in the watershed by presenting recommendations of sustainable economic development study to local officials and business community leaders

Federal Funding:

$100,000

Project Contact:

Lewie Lawrence, 804.758.2311; llawrence@mppdc.com

Project Status:

Project Completed

Final Product Received:

'Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan'  (PDF)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

The Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan (SAMP)’s mission is to preserve the Dragon Run watershed’s cultural, historic, and natural character, while preserving property rights and the watershed’s traditional uses (e.g. forestry, farming, recreation). The plan’s recommendations include land use and resource preservation, education and landowner stewardship, sustainable economic development, and implementation monitoring. 

To facilitate the land use planning recommendation from the Watershed Management Plan, MPPDC staff worked with a consultant and county planning staff to develop specific language for model comprehensive plan and zoning amendments for each of the four watershed counties.  The model ordinances are designed to put tools in place to encourage smart development and plan for the future development that will be coming to the watershed.  The pursuit of the adoption of these recommendations represents a proactive rather than reactive approach to land use planning.  MPPDC staff developed a timeline for each of the localities to address the adoption of some or all parts of the recommendations based on regular comprehensive plan and zoning updates combined with planning staff recommendations for the best strategic approach for each county.  MPPDC staff provided input, as requested, on further language revision and provided input at 1 of the 4 counties prepared to address the adoption of revised zoning language.  Meetings are scheduled at 2 of the other counties to further the adoption of revised language to either comprehensive plan or zoning ordinances. 

The MPPDC administers an education program targeting the watershed community. Aspects of this program include distribution of a DVD which highlights the natural and human characteristics of the watershed that make it unique and worth saving and provides information on initiatives that are currently underway to protect the watershed and the way of life it supports; a community forum about low impact development; a comprehensive website (www.mppdc.com/dragon); and informational brochures.  Additionally, grant funds were utilized to provide staff support for the Dragon Run Day planning committee. Dragon Run Day is a community watershed festival highlighting all of the aspects of the Dragon Run watershed.  The event is scheduled for October 13, 2007 and will provide another education/outreach opportunity which, in the past, has been well received by many people in its first two years.  It is the goal of the Dragon Run Steering Committee to make the festival an annual event, and is currently being sponsored by individuals within the watershed and a grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment. 

The MPPDC provides staff support for the Dragon Run Steering Committee (DRSC), which is a stakeholder group comprised of 2 landowners, 1 Board of Supervisor member and 1 planning commission staff member from each county in the watershed.  Additionally, the MPPDC provides technical assistance to other stakeholders with Dragon Run related inquiries or requests.  This assistance usually comes in the form of mapping or presentations for interest groups, informational assistance to local officials and citizens, representation at Coastal PDC meetings, Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access meetings, and response to inquiries on watershed initiatives and farmland preservation.  MPPDC staff also participated in talks about acquiring land using funds from the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP).

As public and NGO entities acquiring lands for conservation purposes are becoming a significant land holder in the watershed, MPPDC staff produced a report providing recommendations for management of these holdings.  Recommendations in this report include protection of aquatic and wildlife habitat, water quality protection, maintenance of traditional land uses, compatible recreational uses, riparian buffers, establishment of management plans, conservation easements, etc.  The public and NGO entities in the watershed were presented with these recommendations and implementation options were discussed.

MPPDC staff worked with the DRSC to prioritize the sustainable economic development report recommendations to identify a primary item of which to pursue implementation – biodiesel partnerships. The purpose of this initiative to provide a sustainable economic driver for traditional industries in the Dragon Run watershed.  MPPDC staff worked with a consultant, Virginia Clean Cities, to present information about the concept to potential stakeholders and develop a stakeholder base through meetings, and other communications.  Some of the key members integrated into this stakeholder base include representatives of the municipal school bus fleet management, the biodiesel supply chain and the local farmers in the Dragon Run watershed.  These stakeholders will be involved in the pursuant feasibility study and pilot program.

Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email: Laura.McKay@deq.virginia.gov

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to Virginia.Witmer@deq.virginia.gov

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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