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Virginia CZM Program 2007 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Project Title:

Recommendations for Revision of the Dunes/ Beaches Guidelines

Project Description as Proposed:

The Center for Coastal Resources Management, VIMS, has undertaken an initiative to provide integrated scientific guidance for better-informed decision-making regarding Virginia's shoreline systems. To conform to the current thinking on integrated coastal management, the guidance must be adaptive, ignore jurisdictional boundaries and identify choices that promote environmental and economic sustainability. Although they may protect property from erosion, some of the shoreline management practices permitted through the existing regulatory framework within intertidal, riparian, and shallow water areas may be having negative impacts on water quality and aquatic resources. There are currently a variety of regulations and guidelines developed by local and state programs managing shoreline development activities. These include the Beach and Dunes Guidelines, Wetlands Guidelines, Subaqueous Guidelines, and guidance on local government implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, among others. There are, however, no comprehensive guidelines that meet the over-arching objective of maintenance and improvement of Virginia's water quality and aquatic resources.

A report is in preparation by VIMS researchers to summarize the findings from the various dune and beach studies already conducted through the Virginia CZM program, including studies regarding secondary and non-jurisdictional dunes. The report will also include an overview of the value of these resources and the potential effect on the localities that would be affected by changes in the Beaches and Dune Act. Meetings and presentations to help explain the findings and recommendations of the report are underway. The expected outcome of these efforts will be proposed draft revisions to the Dune/Beach Act for consideration by the General Assembly. These revisions may expand the jurisdiction of the Act to, for example, include localities not currently covered by the Act .

As the state of science regarding beaches and dunes evolves as a result of the on-going research, the Coastal Primary Sand Dunes / Beaches Guidelines become out-dated. The Guidelines are used by state agencies and local governments to guide shoreline management decisions. If the anticipated changes to the Act occur, the need to revise the Guidelines would be heightened. We propose the production of a Beach and Dunes Guidelines document on a parallel track with our on-going guidance initiative. The document will be based upon the current scientific understanding of the ecology of dune and beach resources and their role in the landscape. It will provide an overview of the state of the science, and will identify environmental preferences and supporting rationale for shoreline management options. Training on the recommended guidelines, as well as on dune / beach management in general, would be offered to wetland board members and staff as well as other interested local officials.

The document will contain text and color graphics (charts, pictures, diagrams) to convey information. VIMS will coordinate with VMRC, the state lead agency on dune and beach management. Choices regarding content, context and design can reflect VMRC's interest in using the document, or portions thereof, to promulgate revised regulations.

The final deliverable will be a training program and the necessary number of copies of a final report to the Virginia CZM Program. The proposal budget includes estimated costs for design and printing of the revised Dune and Beach Guidelines (approximately 500 copies of a color document).

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Pam Mason, (804) 684-7158;

Project Status:

10/01/07 - 9/30/08; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Sand Dunes and Beaches in Virginia: Science and Management Recommendations for Guidance (pdf)
Living Shoreline Brochure (pdf)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

Two publications and a workshop were produced to address beach and dune management in Virginia.

A workshop was held on Beaches and Dunes in February 2009. Content covered the changes to the implementing legislation, the history of Beaches and Dune management in Virginia, ecosystem services, preferred management approaches and some case studies. There were 113 attendees and feed-back on the workshop was positive.

A report of proposed recommended changes to the management guidance for Beaches and Dunes was produced. The report summarizes the functions of sandy shoreline ecosystems and identifies preferred methods for sustainable management. Specific management options are identified for shoreline erosion control as well as other uses of beach and dune systems.

A brochure was developed to promote the use of Living Shorelines as preferred shoreline erosion control. Living Shorelines are a shoreline management practice that addresses erosion in lower energy situations by providing for long-term protection, restoration or enhancement of vegetated shoreline habitats. This is accomplished through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill and other structural and organic materials. The distribution of the brochure will coincide with work to enhance the content of the CCRM Living Shorelines website that is currently underway with funding from the VCZMP. The brochure will be distributed through regulatory and non-regulatory agency personnel and mailed to the CCRM mailing list.

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:

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to

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

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