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

Project Task:VA CZM logo



Virginia Department of Environmental Quality - VA Coastal Zone Management Program

Project Title:

Eastern Shore Land Acquisition

Project Description:

Since 1991 the Virginia CZM Program has been concerned about the loss of migratory bird stopover habitat on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Studies funded by the Virginia CZM Program have shown that this area supports huge numbers of songbirds, raptors, shorebirds and other birds as they stop to rest and feed during their southward migration to Central and South America each fall. Virginia's CELCP Plan shows the southern tip, bayside and seaside of the Eastern Shore as having 'Outstanding' and “Very High” ecological value (the two top tiers of Virginia’s 5 tiered scale). In fact this area has the largest, contiguous outstanding and very high value areas in Virginia’s entire coastal zone. The Eastern Shore currently has high water quality that also supports a $50 million per year clam farming industry. It is imperative to maintain the high ecological quality of this region. Development pressures were slowed by the recent recession but the land sales are starting to pick up again and Northampton County is considering zoning changes that could negatively impact the conservation of important habitats. Governor McAuliffe’s Administration has made conservation of an additional 400,000 acres one of its few environmental goals making this an excellent time for acquisitions.

Land acquisition and restoration remain the best protection tools we have. The “Southern Tip Partners” an interagency group formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by agency heads at DEQ/VACZM, DCR, DGIF, USFWS and The Nature Conservancy, have worked together for over 20 years collaboratively prioritizing parcels for protection of migratory bird habitat on the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula (i.e. Virginia’s Eastern Shore) and pooling resources to acquire and restore those habitats.  

FY 12, FY13 and FY14 funds were allocated, with guidance from the interagency Southern Tip Partners, to two parcels for sale just south of the Pickett’s Harbor Natural Area Preserve. These “Beautiful Woods” contain ancient secondary dunes with excellent maritime forest that provide much needed habitat for migratory birds. The Southern Tip Partnership will meet on May 21, 2015 and discuss ideas for the allocation of CZM funds for additional land acquisitions and possibly an economic analysis of the value of conserved lands on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. If the latter activity is undertaken, the funding would be “reprogrammed” as a Section 306 task under a new task number. 

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Laura McKay; 804.698.4323;

Project Status:

10/1/15 - 3/31/17; Project Completed

Final Product:

Migratory Bird Habitat Protection & Restoration, Addition to Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve, Northampton County, Virginia Final Report (PDF) 

VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation Medlin Deed (PDF)

Project Summary:

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) completed fee simple purchase of the Medlin tract, a 53.715-acre property in Northampton County, Virginia on September 10, 2018.  The tract is located near the southern end of the Delmarva Peninsula, an area that has long been recognized as a major migratory bird stopover area.  The Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program’s Geospatial and Educational Mapping System (Coastal GEMS), maps this tract as being of “international importance” as a coastal avian protection zone.   

The tract was purchased with $264,807.00 in federal funds provided by this grant, representing 88.7% of the total purchase costs; remaining acquisition costs were provided by the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF).  The final executed deed for the tract designates the property to be “retained in perpetuity….for the conservation of its natural heritage resources” and specifies this property is an addition to the Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve and “will be retained and managed in perpetuity in a manner that furthers the maintenance, preservation, restorations, and management of its natural heritage resources consisting primarily of habitat conditions for migratory songbirds”.

As an addition to the Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve, the property’s current agricultural fields will be restored to native vegetation, thereby increasing the amount of food, cover, and perching habitat available to migrating bird species.  Doing so is a long-standing priority of DCR and other Southern Tip partner groups and agencies, and the tract will be added to the a network of protected lands in the immediate vicinity that include the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, Mockhorn Wildlife Management Area, Kiptopeke State Park and various properties conserved by The Nature Conservancy.  

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

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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