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

Project Task:VA CZM logo



Virginia Institute of Marine Science - Center for Coastal Resources Management

Project Title:

Shoreline Management Planning

Project Description as Proposed:

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) is a guidance document for local governments that recommends strategies for managing tidal shoreline conditions.  The document integrates and utilizes a large and diverse set of conditional data that 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. 

The 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 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. 

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 new Shoreline Evolution Report for the County of Fairfax will be developed.  An expanded Shoreline Evolution Report will be developed for Northumberland County to include the secondary tributaries and creeks.  A new Shoreline Inventory for James City County will be generated.  Finally we will use these data and data previously collected to generate Shoreline Management Plans for Fairfax and Charles City counties. 

Expanding on work previously conducted along high energy shorelines, the Shoreline Evolution Report for Northumberland County will be expanded to include the moderate to low energy shorelines.  The analysis will complete the historic shoreline change for all tidal shoreline in this locality.  This is a critical element for completion of the SMP since the majority of shoreline for this county resides within low to moderate fetch zones. 

A Shoreline Inventories will be developed for James City County.  This activity will provide the necessary data to run the geospatial Shoreline Management Model; a major component of the SMP.  The activity includes data collection, processing and map production.  Development of an interactive map interface in lieu of digital maps in pdf format will be adopted for this inventory as the product deliverable.  This change was explored in the previous funding period with positive and enthusiastic feedback from localities.  We therefore will continue to develop map viewers in place of pdf maps in the future.   

Two SMPs will be generated during the grant period.  Fairfax County and Charles City County Shoreline Management Plans will be published.  Both localities have recent field data collected in previous years which can support nearly all modeling and analysis necessary.  

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.  Data from the shoreline inventories will be posted on the VIMS website as downloadable shape files and metadata and will also be viewable through an interactive web viewer.  Shoreline evolution reports will be posted on the VIMS website.  Downloadable data is not currently available for these studies, however VIMS plans to develop a map viewer for evolution reports in the near future.  Coastal GEMS will contain links to these data. 

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Marcia Berman, 804.684.7188; 

Project Status:

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

Final Product Received:

Charles City County Shoreline Management Plan (pdf)
Shoreline Evolution: Fairfax County, Virginia (pdf)
Fairfax County Shoreline Management Plan (pdf)
James City County and City of Williamsburg, Virginia Shoreline Inventory Report Methods and Guidelines (pdf)
Shoreline Evolution: Northumberland County, Virginia (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 James City County.  The data are available to the public through the following website:  These data 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.  Products associated with the James City County Shoreline Inventory have been delivered to the local government in digital and hardcopy format. 

The Northumberland County Shoreline Evolution Report expands work previously done on primary shoreline into the sheltered tidal creeks and tributaries.  The Fairfax County Shoreline Evolution Report was also developed.  Evolution reports trace shoreline change using historic photographic dating back as far as the 1930s.  Documented changes illustrate the how the shoreline has responded to natural and anthropogenic stressors such as storms and shoreline hardening.  The Evolution Reports and digital data can be downloaded from this link: Hard copies are delivered to the Planning Office and the Office of the County Administrator.

Using both modeled and field assessment, Shoreline Management Plans provide information to guide management of tidal shoreline at the local level. These reports characterize the shoreline’s geology, morphology, and wave climate; while providing specific guidance on tidal shoreline erosion control.  Shoreline Management Plans advocate an ecosystem based approach to shoreline management to strengthen coastal resiliency and long term sustainability of important ecological services.  Final products under this grant include the Charles City County Shoreline Management Plan and the Fairfax County Shoreline Management Plan.  Both should be used to help guide decision making and policy development into the future.  They are available on this site: County Administrator and the Planning Office for both localities receive hardcopies of the plan.


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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