Virginia CZM Program: 2014 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

Grantee:

VA Dept. 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 localities, PDCs and NGOs to help protect natural heritage resources (rare plants, animals, exemplary natural communities and geologic features) by providing access to biodiversity information and DCR consultative services.  A key service is review of projects to identify and recommend mitigation for potential impacts to natural heritage resources.  The enhanced Natural Heritage Data Explorer (NHDE) website (www.vanhde.org) has increased the effectiveness of providing natural heritage information. The Locality Liaison will continue to work to make it available to localities, PDCs, land trusts and others through bi-monthly training. By subscribing to the Natural Heritage Data Explorer (NHDE) website, localities and PDCs can access 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 habitat conservation opportunities using tools such as the Virginia ConservationVision which can now be accessed through the NHDE website, DCR’s Wetland Restoration Catalog (http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/wetlandscat), and VEVA (http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/CoastalZoneManagement/CoastalGEMSGeospatialData.aspx). An overall goal of the DCR-Virginia Natural Heritage program is that 89% of the counties and cities throughout the Virginia Coastal Zone will be provided with Natural Heritage information by the end of September 2015.  Currently, the percentage of localities with Natural Heritage information is 84% within the Coastal Zone of Virginia. DCR will continue to provide updated natural heritage information to all PDCs in the coastal zone region through NHDE and/or ArcGIS shapefiles.

Federal Funding:

$50,000

Project Contact:

Rene Hypes, 804.371.2708; rene.hypes@dcr.virginia.gov  

Project Status:

10/1/14 - 9/30/15; Project Closed

Final Product Received:

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

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

During the FY2014 grant year, the Locality Liaison reviewed 886 projects for impacts to natural heritage resources in the coastal zone (44% of the projects reviewed statewide). Several projects for renewable energy were submitted this year, with five different solar projects as well as continuing studies for offshore wind studies and their onshore impacts.  James City County has continued to be an active partner with DCR’s Natural Heritage Program, requesting review for mitigation of the Hampton Roads Sanitary District Williamsburg Force Main project impact to natural heritage resources.

Coastal localities and other conservation partners participated in eight training sessions for the Natural Heritage Data Explorer (NHDE) website (https://vanhde.org) including 15 from state agencies, 1 from a Federal agency, 8 from local governments, 1 from a Planning District Commission, 8 Soil and Water Conservation Districts, 2 from land trusts, and 5 from consulting companies. At the end of FY14, there were twenty-five coastal counties and fifteen coastal cities, eight Planning District Commissions (100%) and sixteen land trusts (66%) within the Coastal Zone with access to NHDE, digital shapefile data, and/or a combination of these tools. This equates to 91% of Coastal Zone counties or cities having Natural Heritage data, 100% of the Planning District Commissions and 66% of the Land Trusts.

Presentations included an overview of DCR’s Natural Heritage Program, the Locality Assistance Program, and the Natural Heritage Data Explorer (NHDE) website highlighting the Virginia ConservationVision models, and the Virginia Species and Communities Database Search. DCR worked with NatureServe to update the Natural Heritage Data Explorer Species and Community Search to include planning district and coastal zone filters (https://vanhde.org/species-search). In addition, other online conservation tools were presented including the Virginia Wetlands Catalog and the Coastal Ecological Value Assessment (Coastal VEVA); part of the Virginia DEQ’s Coastal GEMS. Natural Heritage information is updated quarterly on the NHDE website and shapefiles including the updated information are also distributed to licensed users. During FY14, 341 projects were submitted through the NHDE, 40% of all the projects submitted statewide.

The Locality Liaison worked with the data management specialist to improve tracking of Natural Heritage Data Explorer licenses and renewed or initiated 64 licenses throughout this year. The Locality Liaison also added a quarterly Coastal Species Highlight section to the Local Assistance webpage (http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/localityliaison) and the locality map (http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/localitiesmap) was updated quarterly identifying localities with natural heritage data.

On October 10, 2015, the Locality Liaison gave a brief introduction to the Natural Heritage Program and the NHDE website to the approximately 45 participants of the Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ annual meeting.

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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