Virginia CZM Program: 2013 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA CZM logo



Virginia Commonwealth University

Project Title:

Coastal Management GIS Support and Coastal GEMS Maintenance

Project Description as Proposed:

This task supports one full time staff position (Coastal GIS Coordinator) that is contracted through Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Environmental Studies (VCU CES) to provide GIS support to the Virginia CZM program and the partial time of two additional VCU CES staff required to host and maintain the Coastal Geospatial and Educational Mapping System (Coastal GEMS), perform data/software updates, and perform grant/project management.

Coastal Management GIS Support:  The Coastal GIS Coordinator provides support to the Virginia CZM Program to ensure that GIS needs are met; that policy and planning functions have adequate GIS support; that open grants involving GIS products are properly managed and implemented; and that Virginia CZM’s Coastal GEMS remains a valuable tool to Virginia’s coastal community. This staff position will support the following activities:
-Work with VCU CES and others to ensure the maintenance and enhancement of Virginia CZM’s Coastal GEMS
-Organize Coastal GEMS training programs for state/local government users and others
-Advise CZM project managers and grantees on grants involving GIS data development, mapping, and NOAA’s data sharing policy
-Perform GIS calculations and searches and produce GIS map products, as needed by the CZM Program and its partners
-Work with CZM Program manager and Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) partners on mapping related ocean planning efforts
-Participate in the Virginia State GIS Users’ Group and keep up-to-date on, or become involved in, other GIS-related developments in Virginia

Coastal GEMS Maintenance:  VCU CES will continue to host, maintain, and update the Coastal GEMS web mapping application.  Current Coastal GEMS data layers will be edited or updated as determined by VCU/CZM staff.  New Coastal Gems data layers will be added as they are developed through Virginia CZM Program grants or are contributed from a partnering agency or organization. 

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Greg Garman, Ph.D., 804.828.1574; 

Project Status:

10/1/2013 - 9/30/2014; Project Completed 

Final Product Received:

Coastal Management GIS Support & Coastal GEMS Maintenance: FY 13 Annual Report (PDF)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Environmental Studies (VCU CES) continued to host the Coastal GEMS online mapping application and performed routine maintenance and updates.  The Coastal GIS Coordinator obtained new data and updates for current Coastal GEMS layers from data providers, processed data for display on GEMS, and updated the Coastal GEMS factsheets and website as necessary.  Layers updated include: conservation lands, public access lands, private oyster leases, anadromous fish use, public access sites, scenic rivers, oyster gardening, and important bird areas.  Layers added include: Eastern Shore Coastal Change Archive and Coastal Planning District Commission Boundaries.  Map services added include: NOAA sea level rise data with layers in 1 ft increments from MHHW through 6 feet of projected sea level rise.  From October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014, Coastal GEMS received 1,171 visits from 606 unique visitors resulting in1,514 pageviews and an average site visit time of 2 minutes and 22 seconds.  Coastal GEMS can be accessed at:

The Coastal GIS Coordinator worked with the Seaside Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) group on planning for future eelgrass expansion on the Seaside of VA’s Eastern Shore.  During a meeting with VMRC regulatory staff, VIMS scientists, and local planners, the Coastal GIS Coordinator utilized participatory GIS to map potential eelgrass expansion areas and then made calculations comparing potential expansion to current SAV coverage, public and private shellfish grounds, and open water, and provided maps and tables of the data to VIMS staff for use in a presentation to the VMRC Board.  This presentation resulted in a resolution by the commission to expand current SAV set-aside areas, asking VIMS staff to create boundaries for new potential SAV set-asides based on the future potential expansion of eelgrass on the seaside to bring back before the board.  The Coastal GIS Coordinator organized a call and subsequent participatory GIS webinar with VMRC regulatory staff, VIMS scientists, and local planners to successfully design and digitize four new proposed SAV set-aside area boundaries on the Seaside of the Eastern Shore.  The Coastal GIS Coordinator created maps of the new proposed set-aside areas that will be presented to the VMRC Board at their January 2015 meeting.

The Coastal GIS Coordinator worked with ANPDC staff to compile and process data from 13 aerial recreational use survey flights covering the seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore and created a series of maps summarizing the data and maps comparing weekday and weekend use for nine distinct recreational uses as well as maps of survey flight lines.  The Coastal GIS Coordinator also set up GIS data input process for the VA CZM Ocean Planning Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator, facilitating creation of recreational use spatial data from geotagged aerial photos of Virginia Beach consistent to data created for the Eastern Shore portion of the project and created a map showing the study area boundaries for each portion of the project for each grantee to use in their respective reports.

The Coastal GIS Coordinator helped to setup and run participatory GIS mapping sessions at recreational use mapping workshops in Southern New Jersey, November 13th-15th, and in Northern New Jersey, November 19th-21st.

The Coastal GIS Coordinator helped to plan, prepare for, and staff a VA CZM Coastal and Ocean Mapping exhibit during the week of January 20th-24th, 2014.  The exhibit included a Coastal GEMS display with updated display panels, factsheets, and a computer set up for live demos of the application.  The Coastal GIS Coordinator presented on VA CZM’s experience utilizing participatory GIS to map recreational uses of the ocean to over 60 participants on a NOAA Office for Coastal Management Ocean Uses webinar on May 1, 2014.

The Coastal GIS Coordinator performed additional GIS services and produced maps as requested by VA CZM staff and partners.

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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