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

Project Task:VA CZM logo

Grantee:

VA Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage 

Project Title:

Habitat Conservation / Locality Liaison 

Project Description as Proposed:

DCR's Natural Heritage Locality Liaison program works with local and regional planners to help protect natural heritage resources (rare plants, animals, exemplary natural communities and geologic features) by improving access to biodiversity information and consultative services from DCR and its comprehensive conservation information system.  A key service provided is review of projects to identify and recommend mitigation for potential impacts to natural heritage resources.  The Virginia Natural Heritage Data Explorer (NHDE) website www.vanaturalheritageexplorer.org, a subscription-based website, continues to be a useful tool for localities and conservation partners. Natural Heritage is currently working with NatureServe to create a new, more robust, NHDE website, enhancing the effectiveness of this tool.With the new upgrade, projected to be online by the beginning of 2013, the Locality Liaison will work with localities using the NHDE website to transition to the new application. The Locality Liaison will continue to work to make it available to localities and others currently without access to Natural Heritage information, showing conservation sites and other natural heritage resource location information, which is useful both for project review and for conservation planning.  Digital geospatial datasets will also continue to be available for incorporation into local GIS systems through our subscription service.  The Locality Liaison will work consultatively with locality planners to incorporate natural heritage resource concerns into local comprehensive plans and permitting processes.  The Locality Liaison will also assist localities and local conservation partners to identify and implement habitat conservation opportunities using tools such as the VCLNA (http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/vclna.shtml), DCR’s Wetland Restoration Catalog (http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/wetlandscat ), and VEVA (www.coastalgems.org then click on Conservation Planning, Comprehensive Conservation Priorities, Virginia Ecological Value Assessment). An overall goal of the DCR-Virginia Natural Heritage program is that 85% of the counties and cities throughout the Virginia Coastal Zone will be provided with Natural Heritage information by the end of September 2013.  Currently, the percentage of localities with Natural Heritage information is 77% within the Coastal Zone of Virginia. 

Federal Funding:

$50,000 

Project Contact:

S. René Hypes; 804.371.2708, rene.hypes@dcr.virginia.gov

Project Status:

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

Final Product Received:

Natural Heritage - Locality Liaison/Habitat Restoration Final Report (PDF) 

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

During the FY2012 grant year, the Locality Liaison reviewed 921 projects for impacts to natural heritage resources in the coastal zone (43% of the projects reviewed statewide). Numerous projects were reviewed for Fort Belvoir as a result of the Base Re-alignment and Closure Act (BRAC). Utility upgrades included water lines, wastewater line and electrical upgrades throughout the base, alternate implementation of the Army lodging privatization was reviewed and a Real Property Master Plan included 57 sites for review. Naval Air Station Oceana Dam Neck Annex also had several projects this grant period including relocating the entrance, building a logistics facility, and shoreline protection repair. Many presentations were given to localities and other conservation partners. Four localities and one state agency were trained in two presentations during October and November of 2012. With the launch of the upgraded Natural Heritage Data Explorer website (http://www.vanhde.org/) on March 1, 2013, the Environmental Review section held twelve training sessions around the state through March to transition users to the new site. Ten additional sessions were held in Richmond, continuing the transition of existing users as well as adding new users. The new site is on an ArcServer platform and has enhanced functionality for both the general public and subscription users. Coastal zone participants in the training sessions included 32 from state agencies, 3 from Federal agencies, 26 from local governments, 5 from Planning District Commissions, 5 from land trusts and 21 from consulting companies. Presentations included an overview of DCR’s Natural Heritage Program, the Locality Assistance Program, the upgraded Natural Heritage Data Explorer (NHDE) website that now includes the Land Conservation Data Explorer (LCDE) layers and the Virginia Species and Communities Database Search. Also information about Virginia CZM's Coastal Ecological Value Assessment and Coastal GEMS was presented. Natural Heritage information is updated quarterly on the NHDE website and updated Natural Heritage shapefiles are also distributed quarterly to licensed users.

The Locality Liaison provided language, tables and a Conservation Sites map to Spotsylvania for use in their comprehensive plan and is currently working with Stafford County, the City of Suffolk, and King and Queen Counties to add natural heritage information in their comprehensive plans or implementation documentation.

The Locality Liaison participated in three outreach events: on October 14, 2012, The Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge “Go Wild” Event, on October 18, 2013, the “Evaluating and Conserving Natural Assets: Maximizing Conservation Potential in the Developing Landscape” workshop held at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and on April 18, 2013, the Army’s Earth Day Event at Fort A. P. Hill for several hundred students and teachers.

DCR-DNH received funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and matched funds from the Department of Transportation to update, modify and expand the Virginia Wetlands Catalog using a revised methodology identifying more opportunities for wetland and stream mitigation that was developed for an 11-subwatershed pilot area of the Pamunkey River. In FY12, the preliminary main base layers were completed, and the final version is expected to be completed by the spring of 2014.

In June of 2013, the Atlas of Butterflies, Skippers, Moths, Dragonflies & Damselflies (http://www.vararespecies.org/) came online providing valuable information on these Species of Greatest Conservation Need to the public, researchers and other interested parties. 

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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