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

Project Task:VA CZM logo



Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Seaside SAMP: Recreational & Cultural Uses on the Seaside and Adjacent Atlantic Ocean and SAV Restoration Goals 

Project Description as Proposed:

The Seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore is a stretch of the Atlantic coast that covers an area 75-miles long with a maximum width of 10 miles. The area is bound by a barrier island chain to the east that is largely undeveloped, the mainland of the Eastern Shore to the west, the state border with Maryland to the north, and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to the south. The Seaside includes the longest expanse of coastal wilderness remaining on the Atlantic seaboard and is comprised of thousands of acres of pristine salt marshes, vast tidal mudflats, shallow lagoons, and navigable tidal channels that support thriving seafood and recreational tourism industries. In addition, several Seaside towns and villages serve as ports for charter fishing activities in the offshore waters of the Mid-Atlantic coastal margin.

The Seaside Special Area Management Planning (SAMP) team (which includes the Marine Resources Commission), and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) are currently collecting data needed for better ocean planning on the Seaside and Mid-Atlantic Ocean off Virginia and have identified a  need for better human use data, particularly the need for  recreational and cultural use data. A better understanding of how humans are using the nearshore and offshore areas is expected to lead to better ocean planning and in turn reduce marine-use conflicts, maximize use-efficiency, and enhance environmental and economic productivity.

The Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission (A-NPDC) is proposing to conduct an assessment of recreational/cultural uses on the inshore and offshore areas of the Seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore and adjacent ocean to produce a baseline dataset for use by the Seaside SAMP team and MARCO.  The assessment will utilize three different surveying techniques including analyzing and compiling existing recreational and cultural use data, solicitation of key stakeholder information via a participatory Geographical Information Systems (GIS) workshop and individual stakeholder meetings, and aerial surveying during expected times of peak recreational use. Each technique will provide detailed comprehensive information that illustrates locations experiencing the greatest use for each of a variety of recreational and cultural uses. The A-NPDC will work with partnering agencies including the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Services Center (NOAA CSC), the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (VCZMP), and MARCO to determine recreational/cultural use assessment categories and develop assessment methodologies that will serve as the standard approach for other regions and states on the Mid-Atlantic coastline. The overall expected outcome of the proposed project is increased understanding of the spatial extent of recreational uses in inshore and offshore Seaside environments, which in turn will lead to improved marine spatial planning decisions, enhanced environmental and economic productivity, and reduction in marine-use conflicts. 

During the 2012 session of the Virginia General Assembly, Senator Northam’s bill to  consider changes to Baylor survey boundaries was tabled thus effectively ending Virginia CZM’s ability to move forward on a new enforceable policy related to changes in shellfish leasing boundaries and public shellfishing boundaries. However, the Marine Resources Commission has expressed interest in pursuing policies related to the long term goals for SAV restoration on the Seaside. Therefore this project will sponsor meetings among representatives of the Marine Resources Commission, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and local watermen and shellfish aquaculturists to try to identify an appropriate SAV restoration goal for the Seaside that would support a bay scallop population, and also allow adequate space for other uses such as clam and oyster cultivation and recreation.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Curt Smith, 757.787.2936 x116;

Project Status:

5/1/12 - 3/31/13; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Recreational Use Assessment Report - Seaside of Virginia's Eastern Shore (PDF)
Eastern Shore of Virginia Seaside Special Area Management Plan: Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Restoration Goal and Management Report (PDF) 

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

Seaside Recreational Use Literature Search
A-NPDC identified existing recreational datasets from the Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper, USFWS Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Reserve, & The Nature Conservancy & converted the data into reusable formats to be included in the report appendices.

Seaside Recreational Use Aerial Survey GIS Data
A-NPDC processed the 2,000+ photos taken during 14 aerial surveys over the VA Atlantic coast from Maryland to North Carolina. A-NPDC compiled all observed counts of recreational uses into a GIS dataset & created maps illustrating the data.

Seaside Recreational Use Participatory GIS Workshop & Meeting Data
A-NPDC, in collaboration with VA CZM, NOAA CSC and other MARCO states, conducted a Participatory GIS Workshop during the Summer of 2012 to solicit recreational use information from key stakeholders. Following the workshop, stakeholders reviewed & approved 22 different maps showing general & dominant use areas for 22 different recreational uses.

Seaside Recreational Use Assessment Report
A-NPDC incorporated all data generated during the literature search, workshop, & aerial surveys into the Final Report.

SAV Restoration Goal & Management Report
Maps & spatial assessment information were produced in collaboration with CZM, VIMS and VMRC staff illustrating consensus SAV restoration goals for the Seaside. Research of similar efforts in other states was compiled and incorporated into the report.  All information was compiled into a presentation presented by Dr. Robert Orth to the VA Marine Resources Commission suggesting that SAV Restoration Set-Aside areas be established in specific locations identified by the working group on the Seaside. A-NPDC completed a report of outcomes. 

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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