Virginia CZM Program 2009 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

12.06

Grantee:

Northern Neck Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Northern Neck Blue-Green Infrastructure Protection

Project Description as Proposed:

NNPDC staff have created draft regional conservation corridor maps (Westmoreland and Richmond counties) that are currently undergoing comprehensive plan review during the previous grant year. This grant year, NNPDC staff will coordinate with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's staff, Division of Natural Heritage staff, the Virginia Networked Education for Municipal Officials Program (VNEMO), the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, and other coastal partner state agencies’ staff to identify potential areas in the other two counties that have high habitat, ecological, recreational, historic or water quality values. The updated and revised Virginia Conservation Land Needs Assessment (VCLNA) and the Virginia Coastal Geospatial and Educational Mapping System (Coastal GEMS) will be used as a base, with local knowledge being used to modify or expand the areas highlighted in the VCLNA. Also, blue infrastructure data created by VIMS will be incorporated into the analysis of green infrastructure. NNPDC staff will work with Lancaster and Northumberland County land use office staff to review the VCNLA and offer revisions and additions to the corridors to fit the character of the County and land area. In addition to the mapping effort, there will be an education and consensus building outreach effort to the Lancaster and Northumberland County Planning Commissions. Three educational presentations will be held throughout the year on blue and green infrastructure in the two counties, and will be held during regularly-scheduled county planning commission meetings.

Once the draft conservation corridor county maps are completed at the county staff level, NNPDC staff will present them at the third planned presentation to Lancaster and Northumberland County’s Planning Commissions for their input, as well as input from the public who attend the regularly-scheduled planning commission meetings. Each county’s comments will be incorporated into the final deliverable.

Federal Funding:

$35,000

Project Contact:

Stuart McKenzie - 804.333.1900: smckenzie@nnpdc17.state.va.us

Project Status:

10/1/2009 - 9/30/2010; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Northern Neck Planning District Commission: Northern Neck Blue Green Infrastructure Protection (PDF)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

NNPDC staff introduced new data created by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) in cooperation with the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (VCZMP) that values natural areas in the Northern Neck localities. The Virginia Conservation Land Needs Assessment (VCLNA) and the Priority Conservation Areas (PCA) consist of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) digital map layers that use various computer models to estimate the relative values of natural areas. NNPDC staff created maps for Northumberland and Lancaster Counties from the various VCLNA models as well as the PCA. NNPDC staff introduced the concept of Blue - Green Infrastructure Planning to the Northumberland and Lancaster Planning Commissions, and illustrated the usefulness of the natural area valuation data sets produced by DCR. NNPDC staff presented at four Northumberland County Planning Commission meetings and five Lancaster County Planning Commission meetings in 2010 into 2011. At each of the presentations, NNPDC stressed the importance of planning for functional natural areas now, while pristine naturals areas are still available. NNPDC staff reasoned that if the County is required by state code to identify areas for future growth, then it should also consider areas in the County where development would be detrimental to habitat and water quality and thus discourage development in those areas. NNPDC staff attempted to show that many of these natural areas identified in the VCLNA are located on steep slopes near streams with highly erodible (sandy ) soils and that these areas could impact water quality if developed improperly. NNPDC staff then tried to link potential future reservoir sites that are shown in each county's comprehensive plan Future Land Use Map to the natural areas in the VCLNA and PCA.  NNPDC staff stated that protecting these areas from development will help in creating potential reservoirs. If the reservoirs were not built, these areas could still benefit the citizens of the county by helping to filter pollution from stormwater runoff from upstream development. While both Planning Commissions understood that planning for natural areas might be of benefit to the county, neither Commission decided to create a Blue-Green Infrastructure Plan for its county at this time.

NNPDC staff continued efforts in Richmond and Westmoreland Counties' Comprehensive Plan revision process to add Blue Green Infrastructure Planning elements into the respective county comprehensive plans. Richmond County, in its existing 1999 Comprehensive Plan, had already identified conservation areas. NNPDC staff, when examining the VCLNA data, noticed that the previously identified conservation areas in the Plan were of high value. In addition, NNPDC staff noted a high value area, Cat Point Creek Watershed, that was not identified as a conservation area. NNPDC staff proposed that portions of the Cat Point Creek Watershed should be added to the conservation areas in the Future Land Use Plan map of the new comprehensive plan. The Richmond County Comprehensive Plan Committee did not agree and did not add Cat Point Creek as an additional conservation area. In fact, the Richmond County Comprehensive Plan Committee decided to remove all the conservation areas in the Future Land Use Plan in the newly revised Comprehensive Plan. Richmond County staff expects the newly revised Comprehensive Plan to be adopted in 2011. The Westmoreland County Comprehensive Plan Committee saw the value of the VCLNA and included five VCLNA maps in their Comprehensive Plan that was adopted on December 13, 2010. The Westmoreland County Comprehensive Plan Blue Green Infrastructure maps included can be found here: https://sites.google.com/a/nnpdc17.state.va.us/westmoreland2030/maps

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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