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

Project Task:VA CZM logo

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Grantee:

Virginia 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.  Natural Heritage has worked with NatureServe to create a new, more robust, NHDE website, enhancing the effectiveness of this tool. The upgraded Virginia Natural Heritage Data Explorer (NHDE) website www.vanhde.org, was posted online March 1, 2013, running parallel to the old website which will be discontinued April 15, 2013.  This upgraded NHDE website now has a public access as well as a subscription-based access to natural heritage resources, and continues to be a useful tool for localities and conservation partners. The public access has incorporated the Lands Conservation Data Explorer  functionality as well as access to the Species/Community database search into the upgraded site. The Locality Liaison will continue to work with localities using the NHDE website to transition to the upgraded 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 (which can be accessed through the upgraded NHDE public access, www.vanhde.org ), 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 88% of the counties and cities throughout the Virginia Coastal Zone will be provided with Natural Heritage information by the end of September 2014.  Currently, the percentage of localities with Natural Heritage information is 84% within the Coastal Zone of Virginia. 

Federal Funding:

$50,000 

Project Contact:

Thomas Smith, 804.371.2708; rene.hypes@dcr.virginia.gov 

Project Status:

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

Final Product Received:

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

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

During the FY2013 grant year, the Locality Liaison reviewed 844 projects for impacts to natural heritage resources in the coastal zone (44% of the projects reviewed statewide). James City County has been an active partner with DCR’s Natural Heritage Program, requesting review of eight projects for potential to impact natural heritage resources. Several resulted in recommendations for surveys for resources. One project included a recommendation for denial of a re-zoning request due to the potential to negatively impact rare natural communities.

Many presentations were given to localities and other conservation partners on the Natural Heritage Data Explorer website (https:// vanhde.org) The Environmental Review section held seven training days with multiple training sessions around the state.  Coastal participants in the training sessions included 40 from state agencies, 1 from a Federal agency, 3 from local governments, 1 from a land trust and 5 from consulting companies. Presentations included an overview of DCR’s Natural Heritage Program, the Locality Assistance Program, the Natural Heritage Data Explorer (NHDE) website that now includes the Virginia Species and Communities Database Search and the ConservationVision Models, as well as other online conservation tools. Natural Heritage information is updated quarterly on the NHDE website and shapefiles with updated information are also distributed to licensed users. Approximately 86% of Coastal Zone, twenty-five counties and thirteen cities, now have Natural Heritage data.

The Locality Liaison provided language, tables and a Conservation Sites map to Westmoreland County, the City of Petersburg and a consultant for the City of Suffolk, for use in their comprehensive plan. The Locality Liaison is currently working with Northampton and James City Counties and the City of Virginia Beach to add or update the natural heritage information in their comprehensive plans or implementation documentation.

The Locality Liaison participated in four outreach events. On April 17, 2014, the Locality Liaison provided natural heritage information for Fort A. P. Hill in Caroline County at the Army’s on site Earth Day Event. On June 17, 2014, the Locality Liaison gave an introduction to the NHDE for a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) educational webinar. On July 25, 2014 the Locality Liaison gave a brief introduction to the NHDE as part of a DCR Virginia Outdoors Plan presentation to the Virginia Association of Planning District Commission’s summer conference. On September 27, 2014, the Locality Liaison gave a presentation on the NHDE to twelve participants at the Virginia Master Naturalist’s annual conference.

The revised Virginia Wetlands Catalog, funded by a Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) grant with matching funds from DCR-DNH, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) was developed with completion scheduled for November, 2014.  The revised catalog will provide a wetland and stream conservation and restoration prioritization tool for use in ranking specific opportunities for wetland and stream mitigation and shared with the CZMP and other conservation partners throughout Virginia.

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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