Virginia CZM Program 2009 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

97.01

Grantee:

Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Middle Peninsula Conservation Corridors Plan

Project Description as Proposed:

Population growth and development in Virginia's coastal zone has resulted in significant habitat fragmentation and the loss of many wetlands and riparian buffers. Identification of this “green infrastructure” and the development of public policy recommendations will help to elevate these resources in future planning initiatives. Green infrastructure includes resources in the water and lands that may affect water resources (blue infrastructure). Without such planning, much of the coastal zone's remaining conservation corridors will be lost as rural areas, like the Middle Peninsula, continue to grow and develop.

The Middle Peninsula is currently ripe with pristine conservation cores and corridors, such as the Dragon Run Swamp. The Dragon Run Swamp has already been recognized as an important green asset of the Middle Peninsula and since 2003 has been the focus of an ongoing watershed-wide planning initiative, the Special Area Management Plan, to protect and promote these green assets.

Embedded with a strong, natural resource-based economy in the form of agriculture and forestry, the Middle Peninsula has many other high priority green corridors, such as much of the habitat along the Mattaponi, the Pamunkey and the Piankatank, that also require identification and planning measures.
All of the Middle Peninsula localities face the challenge of balancing development with protecting rural character. The need to protect rural character has been identified in the counties’ comprehensive plans.

The development of a regionally and locally supported Green Infrastructure Plan (GIP) is essential to elevating the importance of these valuable resources during the local land-use planning process. By identifying and prioritizing green infrastructure assets, risks and strategies through stakeholder engagement and a consensus building process, a long-range plan will be developed that will be focused around stewardship of resources, managing growth, and developing sustainable, connected communities and economies. To accomplish this goal, the following tasks are proposed:

1) Create an educational fact sheet to highlight the benefits of a GIP and demonstrate examples of how other communities are utilizing green corridors in planning initiatives;

2) Through data collection, stakeholder involvement and consensus building, and GIS analysis, develop a local plan that includes a system of interconnected green corridors, assets, risks and strategies that offers priority area identification for conservation and planning for Middle Peninsula localities; and

3) Facilitate the development of GI public policy recommendations from the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission and seek that the Commission request that each of the six localities consider these recommendations as priority areas for future conservation and planning initiatives.

Federal Funding:

$38,000

Project Contact:

Jackie Rickards - (804) 758-2311; jaxrickards@gmail.com

Project Status:

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

Final Product Received:

Middle Peninsula Conservation Corridor Plan (pdf)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

As population growth and development increases in Virginia's coastal zone, so do the changes to the rural landscape. The Middle Peninsula, embedded with a strong natural resource-based economy, has many high priority green corridors. Areas including and surrounding the Mattaponi River, the Pamunkey and the Piankatank provide optimal wildlife habitat as well as rural vistas unique to the Commonwealth. However most recognized as a pristine green asset to the region is the Dragon Run Swamp.  Middle Peninsula localities face the challenge of balancing development with protecting rural character.  By identifying and prioritizing green infrastructure assets, the development of conservation corridor public policy and planning in the future may be supported. Without such planning, much of the coastal zone's remaining conservation corridors will be lost as rural areas.  During this project Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission (MPPDC) Staff worked to develop green conservation corridor maps of the region. GIS data gathered from the 2006 Department of Conservation and Recreation - Division of Natural Heritage’s (DCR-DNH) Virginia Natural Landscape Assessment as well as Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), DCR, and Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Environmental Studies’s Priority Conservation Areas (PCA) study, was specifically used to develop these maps. Providing a visual overview of the region’s “green infrastructure”, the maps supported Commissioners understanding of the green infrastructure planning and helped the Board pass a resolution supporting the management and importance of “Blue and Green Infrastructure” within the Middle Peninsula.  Additionally MPPDC staff assessed issues of green infrastructure. In conjunction with the Virginia Coastal Zone Management’s FY2009 NA09NOS1490163 Task 95, the current fiscal impacts of conservation easements and land holdings by tax-exempt organizations for conservation purposes within the Middle Peninsula were assessed. Through working with the Commissioners of Revenue from each county it was found that conservation easements benefit the locality through the composite index by lowering the total land book value reported to the Virginia Department of Taxation. This means that the locality will receive more State aid for education. Overall, each Middle Peninsula County has a comprehensive plan that has a vision to preserve rural character through the preservation/conservation of open space, agricultural land, and forest land. Therefore conservation corridor planning provides an opportunity to the locality to benefit ecologically, socially, as well as economically.

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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