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Virginia CZM Program: 2012 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA CZM logo



Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission 

Project Title:

Eastern Shore Water Trails Association Development and Seaside Water Trail Camping Accommodation Implementation Plan 

Project Description as Proposed:

The Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission (A-NPDC) is proposing to establish and coordinate the Eastern Shore Water Trails Association to oversee, coordinate, and facilitate the development, maintenance, and promotion of water trails on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The Association’s initial focus will be to reach a consensus plan for implementation of camping accommodations along the Seaside Water Trail. The Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (VCZM) developed the 100-mile long water trail as a series of day-use paddling routes. Construction of camping accommodations at carefully-selected locations along the Seaside Water Trail would enhance ecotourism, provide unique environmental education opportunities, and reduce marine-use conflicts by guiding recreational paddling activities to designated areas that would have the least impact on surrounding private properties, areas used for aquaculture and recreational and commercial fishing, areas used for habitat restoration projects, and critical wildlife and marine habitats.

In 2008, the Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper received VCZM funding to produce the Seaside Water Trail Camping Platform Feasibility Report, which assessed needs for additional camping facilities, availability for suitable locations, regulations and restrictions, potential for land-use conflicts, and economic impacts. In 2012, A-NPDC partnered with VCZM to create a baseline dataset for recreational uses on the Seaside. These projects have identified the areas on the Seaside that are most widely used and most appropriate for recreational uses and in turn, are areas expected to create the least amount of use-conflict. The proposed project will build on these efforts by engaging key stakeholders and Eastern Shore citizens in the development of an implementation plan for camping accommodations along the Seaside Water Trail. A-NPDC will produce the Seaside Water Trail Camping Accommodation Implementation Plan which will summarize all input from the Eastern Shore Water Trails Association meeting and input from the general public. The plan will prioritize camping accommodation projects, investigate management and maintenance responsibilities, and identify funding options.

The Eastern Shore Water Trails Association and the Seaside Water Trail Camping Accommodation Implementation Plan will greatly enhance public access; provide extensive public environmental education opportunities; concentrate recreational activities in the most appropriate areas, and boost economic development opportunities on the Eastern Shore. 

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Curt Smith; 757.787.2936 x114, 

Project Status:

10/1/2012 - 9/30/2013; Project Completed 

Final Product Received:

The Eastern Shore Water Trails Association Development and Seaside Water Trail Camping Accommodation Implementation Plan Final Report (PDF) 

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

Eastern Shore Water Trail Association Meetings
A-NPDC identified regional stakeholders to coordinate water trail development and planning efforts, hosted meetings focusing on plan development to construct camping accommodations on the Seaside Water Trail. Stakeholders reviewed the 2008 Seaside Water Trail Camping Platform Feasibility Report, and identified four sites, two in each county for closer scrutiny:  the Old NASA Ferry Dock and Wisharts Point in Accomack; and Red Banks and Indiantown Park in Northampton County.  Stakeholders selected NASA Dock and Indiantown Park for implementation.

Stakeholders formed a nascent association, the Virginia Eastern Shore Paddling Association (VESPA) to develop and maintain the water trail; raise funds through volunteers, individual, and commercial membership; serve as an information resource and voice for paddlers, and provide stewardship of the natural resources along the Seaside Water Trail. VESPA drafted bylaws and is looking into how to register as a 501 C3 non-profit organization.
Seaside Water Trail Camping Accommodation Implementation Plan
A-NPDC reached out to the Sea Grant Law Center to identify legal issues associated with repurposing former duck blinds to use as camping platforms, and received advice on how to apply information regarding public trust issues and permitting procedures into the implementation plan. A-NPDC conducted research about the economic benefits that redound to rural communities from the support and implementation of trails. VESPA/Stakeholders and A-NPDC established a communication link with other water trails along the eastern seaboard.

A-NPDC staff received conceptual approval from the Accomack Board of Supervisors (BOS) to construct land-based or floating camping platforms along the County’s portion of the Seaside Water Trail. Staff addressed concerns regarding safety and identified ways and institutions to help mitigate security concerns.  From the public hearing, A-NPDC received favorable press coverage in a DelMarVa Now/Eastern Shore News article, “Former NASA Dock to become kayak campsite” that credited VCZM/NOAA with logos and mention. The Northampton Indiantown Park site, although initially thought to be on county property, turned out to be on a privately-owned strip of land.  A-NPDC contacted the owners, but they were unwilling to grant easement or right of way for camping accommodations on their property.

A-NPDC and VESPA will explore how the association can take advantage of the new legislation regarding the Eastern Shore Public Water Access Authority, to advance its objectives, and will seek funds to carry out the recommendations in its report.

Seaside Water Trail Camping Accommodation Implementation Plan and Association Development Report
A-NPDC sent a copy of the report to the stakeholders/ VESPA participants and will post the report to A-NPDC’s website:

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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