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

Project Task:VA CZM logo



Virginia Institute of Marine Science 

Project Title:

Shoreline Management Planning and Development 

Project Description as Proposed:

Guidance to local governments on tidal shoreline management has come in many forms over the years.  The VIMS’ Shoreline Studies Program has developed numerous locality and watershed specific plans including plans for Hampton, Jamestown, Occohannock Creek and Mathews County.  Ongoing guidance is provided through the VIMS Wetlands Advisory Program within the Center for Coastal Resources Management.  This service to local boards and county planning staff has been under- funded for many years and continuation of this level of service into the future is unlikely. 

Shoreline Management Plans (SMP) will provide much of the essential information currently delivered through the hands-on field reviews that accompany the present services through the Wetlands Advisory Program, as well as other information to support long-term planning of coastal resources.   Under new state law, local governments will be required to consider elements of the SMP in their Comprehensive Plan.  To that end, these products facilitate implementation of state policy at the local level.

SMPs are guidance documents for local governments that recommend strategies for managing tidal shoreline conditions.  The documents integrate and utilize a large and diverse set of conditional data to 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. 

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 achieved.  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.  One expanded Shoreline Evolution Report will be generated for Northampton County.  A new Shoreline Inventory for Charles City County and the City of Suffolk will also be generated.  Finally we will use these data and data previously collected to generate Shoreline Management Plans for York County and the City of Suffolk. 

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:

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

Final Product Received:

Shoreline Evolution: Charles City County, Virginia - James River and Chickahominy River Shorelines (PDF)
Shoreline Evolution: Northampton County, Virginia - Chesapeake Bay Shoreline (PDF)
Charles City County, Virginia Shoreline Inventory Report Methods and Guidelines (PDF)
City of Suffolk, Virginia Shoreline Inventory Report Methods and Guidelines (PDF)
City of Suffolk, Shoreline Management Plan (PDF)
York County, 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 Charles City County and the City of Suffolk.  The data are available to the public through the following website:  The Charles city County Shoreline Inventory and the City of Suffolk Shoreline Inventory 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 and the reports 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. 

The York County Shoreline Management Plan and the City of Suffolk Shoreline Management Plan were also generated under this project.  York County is located at the north end of the Peninsula with extensive shoreline along the York River and Chesapeake Bay.  The City of Suffolk is located on the south side of the Hampton Roads with shoreline along the James and Nansemond Rivers.  Both documents are 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 Portal (   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 to be necessary along the majority of the 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, the Charles City County Shoreline Evolution Report and the Northampton County Shoreline Evolution Report were generated.  These reports describe the change in shoreline position overtime through an analysis of aerial imagery dating from the present back to 1937.  These reports are available online at this website:   The prior Shoreline Evolution study for Northampton County was expanded to include the low to moderate energy tributaries within the locality. 

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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