Virginia CZM Program: 2015 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

5

Grantee:

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation 

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 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, and VEVA (http://128.172.160.131/gems2/). An overall goal of the DCR-Virginia Natural Heritage program is that 95% of the counties and cities throughout the Virginia Coastal Zone will be provided with Natural Heritage information by the end of September 2016.  Currently, the percentage of localities with Natural Heritage information is 91% 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:

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

Project Status:

10/1/15 - 9/30/16; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Natural Heritage - Locality Liaison/Habitat Restoration

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

During the FY2015 grant year, the Locality Liaison reviewed 1052 projects for impacts to natural heritage resources in the coastal zone (41% of the projects reviewed statewide). Several projects for renewable energy were submitted this year, with thirteen being different solar projects.  Environmental Resources Management has continued to work with DCR and Fairfax County Park Authority and Dominion Virginia Power to find the least impactful solution for the WB Xpress pipeline and Chantilly Compressor Station. The Elizabeth River Restoration Trust has established a draft plan for restoration and enhancement projects to be used for mitigation in two hydrologic units within the watershed.

Coastal localities and other conservation partners participated in seven training sessions for the Natural Heritage Data Explorer (NHDE) website (https://vanhde.org) including 5 from state agencies, 7 from local governments, 1 from a Planning District Commission, 5 from land trusts, and 10 from consulting companies. At the end of FY 15, there were twenty-five coastal counties and fifteen coastal cities, eight Planning District Commissions (100%) and nineteen land trusts (76%) 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 76% 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. 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 and the Virginia Potential Land Conservation Treasures layers. Natural Heritage information is updated quarterly on the NHDE website and shapefiles including the updated information are also distributed to licensed users. During FY15, 523 (48 were No Comment) coastal projects were submitted through the NHDE, comprising 50% of all the projects submitted in the coastal zone.

In addition, the Locality Liaison participated in the Virginia Land Conservation Conference 2016 as one of four presenters in the Online Tools for Land Trusts break-out session. An overview of the NHDE was given along with a demonstration of the public access website and a description of the tier levels for accessing Natural Heritage resource information for licensed land trusts.  The Locality Liaison also participated in the City of Norfolk Flood Risk Management Study – Planning Workshop co-hosted with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District, focused on flood risk management strategies to address the city’s resilience challenges, opportunities and restraints.

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.

Newport News coordinated with DCR for information on Natural Heritage resources for inclusion in their updated comprehensive plan. A table of resources, map and text was provided. The Locality Liaison also worked with the data management specialist to improve tracking of Natural Heritage Data Explorer licenses and renewed or initiated 43 licenses throughout this year.

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 toVirginia.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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