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Virginia CZM Program 2009 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



Northern Virginia Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Northern Virginia Conservation Corridor Planning

Project Description as Proposed:

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) proposes a two-year project to develop a conservation corridor plan for the region and begin its implementation. The conservation priority map developed as part of the Virginia Conservation Lands Needs Assessment will be refined using local data. NVRC and its partners will identify and map natural resource features across the region that should be considered as potential conservation corridors to identify a network of open and forested green space. Connections between the Northern Virginia region with the ongoing efforts of the George Washington region will be highlighted to improve connectivity across the coastal zone.

To increase awareness on the benefits of conservation corridor planning in the region, NVRC and its partners will develop a presentation, model text, and GIS layers that could be incorporated into local comprehensive plans and other local planning tools. Existing GIS-based software (CommunityViz, American Forest's CITYGreen, for example) will be utilized to better understand the benefits of these cores for pollutant removal and carbon sequestration.

These products will assist in explaining the importance of considering conservation corridors when implementing sustainable community planning practices.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Laura Grape, (703) 642-4625;

Project Status:

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

Final Product Received:

Northern Virginia Conservation Corridors Final Report (pdf)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

Phase I of the Northern Virginia Conservation Corridor project established an advisory group with members that represent a variety of local government planning interests, including general land use, open space, and park development.  Additionally, resource groups were established to better define the regional significance of water resources, cultural heritage resources, and nature-based recreational resources, including the geo-spatial datasets to include in mapping. 

The resulting Northern Virginia Base Corridor Network features the areas of highest ecological integrity across the Northern Virginia landscape, along with possible connections of good quality landscapes, and the contribution of other landscapes identified using local knowledge.  The following thematic overlays highlight the relationships of this network to other natural and human-related activities and resources:

·         Nature-Based Recreation Resources

·         Water Resources – Assets

·         Water Resources – Impairments

·         Known Cultural Heritage Resources

·         Agricultural Resources

A description of the maps and background on the process are provided in the Northern Virginia Conservation Corridors Maps and Report.  Also, the report includes an analysis of ecosystem services that select cross-jurisdictional cores provide for carbon sequestration, removal of air pollutants and stormwater retention, using American Forest’s CityGreen.

In September, Prince William County, VA adopted policy language into the Environmental Chapter of their Comprehensive Plan that could serve as model language for other localities in the region.  Specifically, EN Policy 1, AS 6 states, “Upon completion of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission’s conservation corridor project, update the Environment Chapter to include the priorities identified in the report.”  Other policies included by Prince William County reflect the efforts and process designed by NVRC and its partners to identify, map, and characterize the benefits of conservation corridors in the region.

Data, maps, and reports will be distributed to the members of the advisory group.  Additionally, NVRC staff and its partners plan on hosting a public summit in summer 2011 to further expand awareness of the Northern Virginia Conservation Corridor Planning effort and voluntary conservation opportunities.

The report and maps and other project-related material, including information regarding the public summit are available online at

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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