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Virginia CZM Program: 2011 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA CZM logo



Virginia Institute of Marine Science - Center for Coastal Resources Management

Project Title:

Shoreline Management Planning

Project Description as Proposed:

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) is a guidance document for local governments that recommends strategies for managing tidal shoreline conditions. The document integrates and utilizes a large and diverse set of conditional data that describe conditions along tidal shoreline reaches at high resolution. Local governments can utilize the document in multiple ways, but the intent is that recommendations put forth within the document will provide the basis for county policy on shoreline management and will serve as the reference manual for local wetlands boards who review applications for activities along tidal shorelines.  The SMPs comprise 5 major elements: a shoreline inventory, a shoreline evolution study, recommendations for shoreline management options using a cost effective geospatial decision tool, a general cost estimate and schematics for specific types of shoreline treatments, and background review on the state of the shoreline including general geology and characteristics of the coastal land use. Over the last 10 years, major accomplishments necessary to develop SMPs have been accomplished. Shoreline Inventories and Shoreline Evolution Reports, which provide independent data that feed models and envelope the full breadth of a SMP, have been generated for many localities in the coastal zone of Virginia. These activities must continue in tandem with the development of the first SMPs to insure that all data necessary to accomplish comprehensive shoreline planning across all coastal localities into the future remains current and available.  Therefore, the scope of work proposed for this project includes several aspects of the data development as well as final SMP products for selected localities. A review of existing products to support SMP development was undertaken. Consideration of data currency, completeness, and consistency with data protocols and model needs was essential. Based on this review the following activities will be targeted.Two expanded Shoreline Evolution Reports for Westmoreland County and the City of Virginia Beach will be generated. A Shoreline Inventory for the City of Virginia Beach and Henrico County will also be generated. Finally we will use these data and data previously collected to generate Shoreline Management Plans for Virginia Beach and Westmoreland County.  Expanding on work previously conducted along high energy shorelines, Shoreline Evolution Reports will be expanded for Westmoreland County and the City of Virginia Beach to include the moderate to low energy shorelines. The analysis will complete the historic shoreline change for all tidal shoreline in these localities. This is a critical element for completion of the SMP since the majority of shoreline for both these jurisdictions reside within low to moderate fetch zones.  Shoreline Inventories will be developed for the City of Virginia Beach and Henrico County. This activity will provide the necessary data to run the geospatial Shoreline Management Model; a major component of the SMP. The activity includes data collection, processing and map production. Development of an interactive map interface in lieu of digital maps in pdf format will be explored following feedback from the locality.  Two SMPs will be generated during the grant period. The City of Virginia Beach (Bay side), and Westmoreland County Shoreline Management Plans will be published. Both localities have an expressed need and interest in this product.   Following activities to be undertaken early in the project year, both localities will have recent field data to support all modeling and analysis necessary.    The project year will include field work, data collection, data processing and analysis. Data and report publication. SMPs will be made available electronically and distributed to the local governments on CD and posted to the VIMS website. Baseline data, where appropriate will be delivered to CZMP for inclusion in Coastal GEMS.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Marcia Berman, 804.684.7188;

Project Status:

10/1/2011 - 9/30/2012; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Westmoreland County Shoreline Management Plan (pdf)
Lynnhaven River Shoreline Management Plan (pdf) 

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

Products that support shoreline management planning at the local level include: the Shoreline Inventory, the Shoreline Evolution Report, and the Shoreline Management Plan.  Individually each one of these contributes to a better understanding of the condition of the shoreline, how it has evolved over time, and how it should be managed into the future to sustain important ecological services that humans derive benefits from. 

This project has funded the development of locally derived shoreline inventory data for Henrico County and the City of Virginia Beach.  The data are available to the public through the following website:  They describe land use along the shoreline, the stability of the shoreline, where the shoreline has been stabilized to counter erosion, and the general shoreline morphology.  These data support a number of different modeling efforts.  Among them, the geospatial Shoreline Management Model (SMM) developed to make recommendations for controlling shoreline erosion in a manner that minimizes impacts to ecosystem services.  The SMM provides critical data for the development of the Shoreline Management Plan. 

Shoreline Management Plans were generated for Westmoreland County located on the Northern Neck of Virginia, and the Lynnhaven River Watershed; a highly populated urban watershed located in Virginia Beach.  These documents will become available on the Shoreline Studies Program website at VIMS ( and as an additional resource in the “Toolbox” under the locality’s Comprehensive Coastal Resource Management Plan (   Shoreline Management options recommended for these localities range from planting marsh grasses, performing upland modifications,  to construction of sizeable offshore breakwater systems.  The Shoreline Management Plans reflect a desire to use the minimal amount of erosion control required based on the setting and the conditions observed.  For both localities, the need for traditional erosion control structures was found not be necessary along the majority of shoreline.  Exceptions included shoreline along the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay, or those areas already significantly altered by human activity.

In addition to the above, a Shoreline Evolution Report was generated for the City of Virginia Beach.  This report describes the change in shoreline position overtime through an analysis of aerial imagery dating from the present back to 1937.  The report is available online at this website:   Averaged rates of change range from 3.0 to -2.8 ft/yr with the highest erosion found along the southern extent of the city on the Atlantic Ocean.  

Also under this grant, a prior Shoreline Evolution study for Westmoreland County was expanded to include the low to moderate energy tributaries within the locality.  The report is also available 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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