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Virginia CZM Program 2009 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan

Project Description as Proposed:

The Dragon Run SAMP mission is to preserve the watershed’s cultural, historic, and natural character, while preserving property rights and the watershed’s traditional uses (e.g. forestry, farming, recreation). Anticipating future growth pressures, the Dragon Run SAMP seeks to balance demands by improving the tools available to manage the environmental, social, and economic resources of the watershed. To achieve these goals, the Dragon Run Steering Committee has produced a Watershed Management Plan. The SAMP’s stakeholder-based approach increases the likelihood that localities and stakeholders will implement the plan’s recommendations. The plan’s recommendations include land use, resource conservation and planning, education and landowner stewardship, sustainable economic development, and implementation monitoring.

To date, one county, King and Queen, has taken action to amend zoning ordinance language to reconfirm its commitment to protect the Dragon Run; one county, Essex, is anticipated to include Dragon Run recommendations in its comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance during the FY08 grant cycle; and two counties, Gloucester and Middlesex, are currently undergoing comprehensive plan updates and have included Dragon Run recommendations in their drafts. Middlesex County has also indicated that they may be progressing on including recommendations during the FY08 grant cycle as well.

The following activities are proposed by MPPDC for FY09:

1)Provide technical assistance for each watershed county during its adoption cycle and assist in the implementation of the Dragon Run Comprehensive Plan and/or Zoning Amendments; and

2)Administer a technical assistance program that supports the implementation of the Watershed Management Plan and support of the Dragon Run Steering Committee.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Sara Stamp - (804) 758-23111:

Project Status:

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

Final Product Received:

Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan Report (FY09 - October 1, 2009 - September 30, 2010) (pdf)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

During the FY 2009 grant cycle, two of the four Dragon Run Watershed counties – Essex and Gloucester – were in the process of updating Comprehensive Plans. None of the four watershed counties were updating Zoning Ordinances impacting the Dragon Run Watershed during this time period. King and Queen County and Middlesex County adopted revised Dragon Run Zoning Ordinance or Comprehensive Plan language during previous grant cycles. MPPDC staff consulted with representatives from each of the remaining watershed counties regarding their Dragon Run land-use recommendations and offered assistance during their review and adoption processes. Both Essex and Gloucester confirmed their commitment to consider adopting and implementing Dragon Run land-use.

MPPDC staff continued to provide support to the citizen-based Dragon Run Steering Committee and its related sub-committees. Staff provided outreach materials to the general public via DVDs, brochures and the Dragon Run website ( Approximately 200 DVDs were distributed during this grant cycle. MPPDC staff assisted the Dragon Run Steering Committee as they sought nominations and awarded the annual Dragon Run Stewardship Award. MPPDC staff provided technical support to assist the Dragon Run Day Subcommittee in planning for the community-oriented Dragon Run Day to celebrate the natural, cultural, and historic heritage of the Dragon Run.  

Conservation easements are useful tools to help preserve rural character, promote traditional industries and conserve water quality and natural resources. However, concerns by localities over fiscal impacts of easements spawned by tough economic times and a significant conservation land transaction drove the Dragon Run Steering Committee to request that the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission make this subject a priority to find resources and study further to understand the actual impacts, both positive and negative. The key finding of this study are that conservation easements and tax exempt land holdings fiscal impacts are actually a very small percentage of county budgets – mostly less than 0.5%. Commissioners of Revenue are in the process of implementing recommendations from this study to help capture the maximum benefits of tax exempt holdings.

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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