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Virginia Coastal Program: 2007 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Project Title:

Seaside SAMP: Priority Estuarine Conservation Areas

Project Description as Proposed:

Priority conservation and preservation targeting has, to date, largely focused on the terrestrial portion of the coastal landscape. Concurrent work among various state agencies has successfully developed tools that identify important Green Infrastructure; where habitat fragmentation and loss are prevalent and where development presents the greatest threat to long-term sustainability of terrestrial living resources. Within that body of research and development, we are better able to identify where to focus limited financial resources for land or easement acquisition. We are also able to provide guidance to local governments to encourage development practices that minimize threats in the future.

Our efforts in the estuarine ecosystem have lagged. To date we have collated and generated a number of estuarine-based living resource inventories available in GIS to begin the process of extending priority conservation targeting into the “Blue” estuarine zone. A CZM funded project several years ago created a Blue Infrastructure website at VIMS which identified and/or developed 26 different resource inventories and made them available through VIMS ( and subsequently Coastal GEMS (

This project will explore various data sources to develop a combined assessment for resource sensitivity for the seaside of the Eastern Shore. The project will be accomplished in tandem with a comparable effort directed at the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay and the Back Bay area of Virginia Beach. The project is motivated by several needs. A seaside management plan with be looking closely at shallow water habitat in this region and recommending strategies that could provide for economic expansion of the aquaculture industry, restoration of the scallop population, and the continued need for sustainable natural heritage resources. Recognizing that land use decisions on the upland affect so many of these elements, this project looks for developing connectivity between the upland Green Infrastructure in an effort to maintain and improve water quality and habitat health on the seaside. Therefore, activities proposed in this scope of work will provide information that reports where current best available data indicate high ecosystem service potential (e.g. very important blue infrastructure) as well as a robust collection of living resources.
The proposed project will use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and available data to create overlay regions of high sensitivity within the seaside lagoons on the Eastern Shore. These regions will represent a varying degree of sensitivity based on the number of aquatic living resources identified within each one.

Data will be reviewed and collected through a variety of sources that include, but are not limited to, CZM’s Coastal GEMS application, NOAA’s 2004 Environmental Sensitivity Index Atlas for Virginia, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Natural Heritage (DNH), Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and The Nature Conservancy.

A cumulative sensitivity analysis will be performed which will analyze and report on areas that support the greatest number of living resource features. Living resource features include species specific (e.g. blue crab) as well as habitat features (e.g SAV).
This project will closely review the output of the FY 2008 Task 11.02 grant which assesses growth, and is developing a spatial dataset that addresses Priority Conservation Areas in the terrestrial portion of the Coastal Zone of Virginia. GIS will be used to identify spatial connectivity between resource rich waters and upland identified to be a priority conservation area. We will also look closely at the Vulnerability model developed under Task 11.02 to identify development hotspots projected in the model and attempt to define seaside areas where resources may be at significant risk due to the projected development potential.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Marcia Berman, (804) 684-7188;

Project Status:

9/1/2009 - 3/31/2010

Final Product Received:

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

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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