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Virginia CZM Program 2008 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



Northern Virginia Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Northern Virginia Climate Change Adaptation- Sustainable Shoreline Community Management, Phase I

Project Description as Proposed:

Efforts to educate residents and reduce impacts from climate change are underway in Northern Virginia. To complement this ongoing effort, NVRC proposes a project to plan for sustainable shoreline and near-shore community development, restoration, protection, and revitalization along Northern Virginia's tidal waters. Planning specifically for a rise in sea level supports the development of a regional climate change adaptation toolbox for the region.

Phase I, of this three phase project, focuses on inventorying existing data resources and policies to determine the natural and man-made resources, identify data gaps, and understand current local shoreline management regulations. In undertaking this project, the recommendations of the Governor's Commission on Climate Change will be considered. Virginia and Chesapeake NEMO will play a major role in the formation and co-facilitation of a workgroup consisting of representatives from local, state, and federal governments, college and universities, and other stakeholders will be formed. The workgroup will assist in highlighting and collecting relevant data, as it relates to, but is not limited to:
-Shoreline Management Policies;
-Existing and Future Land Use; and
-Tidal and Non-tidal Natural Resources.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Laura Grape, (703) 642-4625;

Project Status:

10/1/2008 - 9/30/2009; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Northern Virginia Regional Commission Sustainable Shorelines and Community Management Project
Phase I Report

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

NVRC and the Virginia/Chesapeake NEMO programs coordinated a workgroup comprised of staff representatives from localities, military installations, universities, major land managers, including the National Park Service, DCR - Mason Neck State Park, and the Fish and Wildlife Service - Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge, and others major stakeholders. Four meetings were held throughout the year.  The workgroup engaged in discussions and work sessions facilitated by Virginia/Chesapeake NEMO to identify areas of concern within their respective jurisdictions on maps of the Potomac River shoreline and review and provide feedback on vulnerability maps, as well as draft content for the Policy Inventory Report.

In between workgroup meetings NVRC continued to refine the vulnerability map and collect GIS data as suggested by the workgroup.  Chesapeake NEMO acquired LiDAR data from a Department of Defense contact for the upper Potomac River project area.  NVRC hired a summer intern to research relevant policies and plans.

The effort included a region-wide assessment of the number of parcels and extent of tidal wetlands affected based on a one and three-foot rise in sea level and an additional 10 foot rise due to storm surge.  Results include:
Sea Level Rise Only Sea Level Rise + 10 feet of Storm Surge
  1 foot 3 feet 11 feet 13 feet
Total Number of Parcels Affected 1,869 2,678 7,083 8,135
Acres Tidal Freshwater Marsh* Inundated
(2,168 acres total)
1,959 2,031 2,121 2,129
NVRC utilized the Chesapeake Watershed Network to improve communication and information sharing. The workgroup site is visible only to workgroup members and contains presentations, discussion forums, a blog and other materials for their consideration. 

The Policy Inventory Report is a compilation of adaptive approaches in cities and regions similar to Northern Virginia, as well as Northern Virginia's existing local policies that the jurisdictions may build upon or integrate strategies into.  Initial research and the first draft were prepared between June and August.  At the September workgroup meeting, a discussion on the final draft report revealed additional interest by the workgroup members in understanding the legal authority Virginia's local governments have and what may currently prohibit the integration of adaptation strategies into their plans and policies. 

A secondary outcome of the workgroup is a continuing forum for the members to learn from each other's experiences.  For example, after hearing a presentation by CH2M Hill at one of the workgroup meetings, Arlington County is riding a City of Alexandria contract to develop new regional stormwater curves for the county, based on projected climate change impacts.

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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