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

Project Task:VA CZM logo

9

Grantee:

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage

Project Title:

Healthy Waters Initiative and VNEMO Program in the Coastal Zone

Project Description as Proposed:

Funding through this grant will be used to support the implementation of the Virginia Healthy Waters Initiative (HWI) and the Virginia Network for Education of Municipal Officials Program (VNEMO) activities as it applies to advancing the interpretation and delivery of tools and products of the Natural Heritage Division at the VDCR such as the Virginia Ecological Values Assessment (VEVA) in the Coastal Zone of Virginia. In addition, this grant will provide support to the Planning District Commissions (PDCs) and localities requesting assistance through VCZM Technical Assistance grants, PDC competitive 306  funds and section 309 environmental enhancement strategies. Assistance provided will be in such areas as blue/green infrastructure protection and restoration planning, planning for adaptation to changes in climate, coastal community development, water quality and natural resource based planning, and working waterfronts.

An Environmental Scientist/Analyst will be retained through a contractual arrangement with the Center for Environmental Studies (CES) located at Virginia Commonwealth University.  The individual will continue to work directly with DCR Natural Heritage staff and have access to the facilities and expertise of CES as well. The position also serves as a liaison between DCR and the Center for Environmental Studies at VCU to promote joint, applied research and outreach projects. This includes the oversight of programs, projects, grants and grant budgets, providing technical support to VDCR Natural Heritage Division and the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, as it relates to coastal zone ecology, management, and restoration.

This position will also continue to participate in state, local, or federal working groups as needed with regard to water quality protection and restoration issues as the VDCR deems necessary.  In addition, the Program Manager will prepare semiannual and annual reports and other technical documents. 

Federal Funding:

$27,000 

Project Contact:

Todd Janeski, 804.371.8984; todd.janeski@dcr.virginia.gov 

Project Status:

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

Final Product Received:

Healthy Waters Program and the VNEMO in the Coastal Zone Final Report (PDF)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

The VCU Environmental Scientist/Analyst, as retained by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Division of Natural Heritage, served as the Program Manager of the Virginia Healthy Waters Program, the Virginia Coastal Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program (CNP), and Virginia Network of Education of Municipal Officials Program (VNEMO) at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. The VCU Environmental Analyst/ Program Manager focused these efforts to expand the implementation of the programs and direct workshops and educational opportunities to local decision makers. Through the VNEMO Program, the Program Manager also directs research and education on innovative stormwater management technologies at the Science Museum of Virginia.

Due to the lack of dedicated NOAA Section 310 funding to support the 56 Management Measures as outlined in the 6217 Guidance, the merger of the water quality programs of the VA DCR, specifically the Nonpoint Source Programs, and increasing responsibilities between multiple grants, the Coastal NPS Program administration was moved to the VA Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ). Increasing responsibilities also lessened the attention from the Program Manager to the Virginia Network for Education of Municipal Officials Program (VNEMO), aside from a few distinct areas of program assistance to the Science Museum of Virginia. The Healthy Waters Program integration with the Division permitted direct programmatic changes by the Program Manager to develop and grow the Healthy Waters Program. Programmatically, the assessment of program resources and needs was conducted through an internal staff analysis that included discussions of staff resources, data collection and increased internal staff capacity. Data gaps and data integration were the two focal areas of the analysis with immediate needs to integrate existing INSTAR data into the NHD data explorer and the creation of new EOs and Stream Conservation Units (SCUs). Additionally, the data gap was identified to be focused in the resources outside of the Chesapeake Bay except for the recent USEPA Section 319 funding to support the collection of data in the Chowan basin to develop a Criteria for Ecologically Healthy Watershed Conservation following the Section 319 A-I criteria for watershed restoration. While outside the Coastal Zone, this project has created a draft A-I Criteria for watershed protection based on an aquatic community analysis as opposed to a water quality based approach that will have state-wide applicability. Discussions included the improvement in program capacity by adding two field staff to the Program through a focused training in the 2014 sampling season. The Program Manager oversaw a CBIG funded project to conduct re-sampling in Coastal plain streams in the Commonwealth of data older than ten years. These sites, initially supported with VA CZM funding, included the two above mentioned Natural Heritage personnel. These sites, given the date of initial acquisition, were likely to have significantly changed over time. This analysis was conducted to determine if and how streams have maintained their designation as Healthy. The language by which the Healthy Waters Program identifies the highest ranking water bodies was changed from Exceptional to Outstanding so as not to conflict with any regulatory language associated with water quality and is consistent with the Natural Heritage Division ranking of highest quality. During the reporting cycle, the Program Manager participated in the Chesapeake Bay Program Goal Implementation Team 4 (GIT 4) Healthy Watersheds as the Virginia representative and Program Manager. The Program Manager was recommended to the Governor to be the lead of the Goal Team for Virginia with the task of advancing Management Strategies to meet the Agreement.

Reprogramming remaining funds from this grant cycle permitted the VACZM Program to support the development and implementation of the VA Oyster Shell Recycling Program by contributing to the expenses associated with marketing (decals, stickers and signage) and the hauling of accumulated material to Gloucester Point, VA to be used as part of Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration activities in 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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