Virginia CZM Program 2007 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

10.04

Grantee:

Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper

Project Title:

Support for Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper

Project Description as Proposed:

The Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper Program will continue to conduct year round on-the-water observations to investigate, assess and document citizen allegations of harmful activity, participate in the public process, and to minimize the growing potential for conflict between aquaculture industry and mainland ecological impacts or manipulations. The Shorekeeper will serve as an ombudsman for the seaside bays and provide an additional set of eyes and ears to alert the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) or other appropriate agencies, on issues relating to the protection of sensitive natural resources. The Shorekeeper and volunteer Creek Watchers will monitor water quality related activities. In addition remote time-lapse cameras will be used to monitor publicly funded oyster reef sanctuaries, eelgrass beds planted under the auspices of the Virginia CZM Program, and rare beach and colonial nesting birds for activities that could threaten these resources.

The Shorekeeper will continue to distribute and market the Seaside Water Trail Map & Guide, funded by CZM. This public information tool will better educate the canoe & kayak community about sensitive natural resources. Distribution and posting of fact sheets and other informative material at public boat ramps will be coordinated with the peak of nesting bird season. Public education at local public boat ramps, through distribution and posting of fact sheets and other informational materials will focus around peak nesting bird season. The Creek Watchers Volunteer Training Program and other general public interest/outreach programs will continue to recruit volunteers to broaden monitoring of human impacts to sensitive marine resources.

Cumulative impacts from abandoned and discarded aquaculture netting on the barrier islands will be assessed and mapped, noting specific habitat changes. Virginia CZM studies in FY-04 and FY-05 showed significant reductions in netting quantity, this trend appears to be continuing. The study did not quantify the effects of physical changes to the barrier beaches and coastal habitat, or if these changes result in a change in the amount of netting found. Based on prior study recommendations, this year's study will utilize data from the previous years, add new net data and overlay the data in a GIS layer of specific habitat.

Federal Funding:

$25,000

Project Contact:

David Burden - (757) 678-6182: shorekeeper@gmail.com

Project Status:

10/1/2007 - 9/30/2008; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Patrol Summary Observations and Reports of Human Activity on the Atlantic Barrier Islands on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (Word doc)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

FY 2007 was a transitional year for the Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper in many ways.  The most obvious change was in the staffing of the organization as David Burden became the new Shorekeeper after Richard Ayers’ departure, and Phyllis Tyndall took over the administrative duties.  However, there were changes in focus on the water and throughout our mission.  Public outreach and education became a higher priority in FY 07.  While the Shorekeeper continues to patrol all of our 500 miles of marsh and barrier island coastline, the lower Shore became a greater focal area for patrols than it had in the past.  Additionally the ongoing work to reduce the amount and impact of derelict commercial fishing equipment was expanded to include derelict crab pots in addition to the clam aquaculture netting that has been a target for the past several years.

Increased outreach activities in FY07 capitalized on partnerships with many other local organizations, both non-governmental and governmental.  Presentations to schools, civic groups, and community gatherings were ideal locations to discuss some of the successes we have had working with the clam aquaculture industry as well as the scientific community on the Shore.  By doing things like working with the Nature Conservancy to bring volunteers into sea grass restoration projects, the Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper is able to not only further our goals of protecting, preserving, and enhancing the quality of our coastal waters, there is also a public education aspect of these activities that creates a sense of ownership and understanding of our vital and unique resources. The return of the Shorekeeper Newsletter has helped to spread the word regarding the activities and goals of the organization, and a web-site redesign is an ongoing process that will help disseminate information as well.

The Seaside Water Trail has also been an excellent tool for introducing the public to the incredible diversity of the Seaside ecosystem.  The new Shorekeeper has an extensive background as a professional kayak instructor and guide, and has been able to help spread the word about the amazing paddling opportunities available to paddlers of all skill levels on the Seaside of the Eastern Shore, while increasing the importance of low impact travel and principles like the Leave No Trace guidelines.

Early in the FY 07 patrol period it became evident that the widespread lack of responsibility for clam netting has been reduced and almost eliminated due to the success of prior Shorekeeper and industry efforts.  This allowed for the expansion of the Shorekeeper commercial fishing equipment removal and elimination program to progress to derelict crab pots.  With the attention that these derelict crab pots are currently receiving in the Chesapeake Bay due to a Commonwealth of Virginia program to put crabbers to work in the former winter dredging season, this effort on the seaside is able to capitalize on a relatively high level of public awareness and willingness to volunteer.  A comprehensive crab pot removal strategy has been developed, and is being implemented.  This program was designed as a replicable template for other similar programs and communities to build upon.

An increase in active participation in local boards and commissions is another change that has taken place this year.  While the Shorekeeper has always been active in public hearings and building public awareness, placements on these boards and commissions gives the Shorekeeper a seat at the table when important land management, resource management, and community planning decisions are being made.

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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