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

Project Task:

FY 2005 Task 92.03

Grantee:

Virginia Institute of Marine Science - Center for Coastal Resources Management

Project Title:

Coastal Maritime Forests in Virginia - Delineation and Distribution

Project Description as Proposed:

This project looks at coastal maritime forests, an important coastal habitat that has received little attention until now. For the purpose of this project coastal maritime forests are defined under the ecological community classification developed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to include maritime dune woodlands and maritime uplands. Maritime dune woodlands are composed of deciduous, coniferous, and broadleaf evergreens. Maritime upland forests contain “… species-poor evergreen and mixed coastal forests” (DCR, 2005). They are often pine-dominated, with an understory of deciduous trees.


The proposed project has two major goals. First, using existing GIS data, the project will delineate locations of existing coastal maritime forests. This delineation will be primarily based on existing classified land use/land cover data and digital soil surveys. Ancillary data including dunes identified in an earlier VIMS initiative funded by Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (VA-CZM) will provide a mechanism for validating the location of maritime forests. The Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) will provide field support to assist with on the ground validation of the delineation.


The second major goal of this project is to compute, on a county by county basis, the amount of maritime forest cover present in each coastal locality, and the extent of maritime forests located within conservation lands. Boundaries for public lands data will be acquired from VA DCR. Computations will be posted to a website which will include maps and tables. GIS data and metadata will also be downloadable from this site.

Federal Funding:

$37,500

Project Contact:

Marcia Berman, (804) 684-7188; marcia@vims.edu

Project Status:

2/1/2006 - 3/31/2007; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

'Coastal Maritime Forests in Virginia – Delineation and Distribution' (PDF)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

Coastal maritime forests are important coastal habitats that receive little attention despite the fact they are under significant threat. This study defined coastal maritime forests under the ecological community classification developed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VA DCR) and includes maritime dune woodlands and maritime uplands. Maritime dune woodlands are composed of deciduous, coniferous, and broadleaf evergreens. Maritime upland forests contain “… species-poor evergreen and mixed coastal forests” (Fleming et al., 2006). They are often pine-dominated, with an under story of deciduous trees.
This project had two major goals. The first goal was to use remote sensing techniques to delineate existing coastal maritime forests. This delineation, unlike earlier efforts, would be validated using ancillary datasets and ground validation. A baseline delineation was generated by combining high resolution soils data (SSURGO) and land use classification data (RESAC).  This delineation indicated maritime forest habitat in seven different jurisdictions:  Accomack, Hampton, Mathews, Norfolk, Northampton, Poquoson, and Virginia Beach.  Ancillary data (VBMP 2002 2 ft resolution aerial imagery and the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation Division of Natural Heritage’s referenced survey data), combined with the expertise of local foresters and landscape ecologists, was used to refine the boundaries.  The Virginia Department of Forestry provided staff support from various regional offices to perform all field work for ground validation.  In the final iteration, maritime forest habitat was present in only three jurisdictions:  Accomack County, Northampton County, and the City of Virginia Beach.
The second major goal of this project was to compute, on a county-by-county basis, the amount of maritime forest cover present in each coastal locality, and the extent of maritime forests located within conservation lands. Boundaries from DCR’s Conservation Lands Database were used.  Of the 4,093 acres of maritime forest delineated, all but 163 acres reside within existing conservation lands.  These areas are located in Northampton County and Accomack County.     
A short report documenting the process used to reach the mapped areas, results of the study and maps, and GIS data have been posted to a website hosted by the Center for Coastal Resources Management (CCRM) (http://ccrm.vims.edu/maritimeforest/maritimeforest.html).

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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