Virginia CZM Program: 2016 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

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Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Project Title:

Lower Chickahominy Watershed Herpetological Inventory

Project Description:

The lower Chickahominy River watershed is one of the last remaining ecologically-intact watersheds in Virginia’s coastal zone, even though it is located between the Richmond and Hampton Roads metropolitan areas, which are home to more than 2.5 million Virginians.  Large tracts of conserved lands exist within the watershed, including the Chickahominy Wildlife Management Area, a 5200-acre parcel located along the west side of the Chickahominy River near its confluence with the James River. Game Farm Marsh WMA is a 429-acre parcel located up river across from the New Kent Forestry Center. From a herpetological perspective, this WMA is mostly unexplored. Because of its relatively undeveloped characteristic, the watershed supports a relatively high number of Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), as identified in Virginia’s Wildlife Action Plan.  The Wildlife Action Plan has been a guiding force in wildlife conservation over the last 10 years. It represents a strategy to conserve Virginia’s wildlife resources and help keep species from becoming endangered. DGIF and partners have used the Action Plan to identify key species and habitats in need of conservation and implement projects and research needed to address those issues on behalf of all Virginians.

Less developed and more rural areas often provide a diversity of valuable wildlife habitats, which can be degraded or lost as human populations grow. This region is important to a variety of species, such as the glossy crayfish snake, eastern pond mussel, rare skipper, and the eastern slender glass lizard.  For the glossy crayfish snake, the confluence of Diascund Creek and the Chickahominy River is the only known occurrence of this species in the Commonwealth, and it has not been documented at this location since 1994. Of Virginia’s 884 SGCN, 100 are believed to either occur, or have recently occurred, within the region. Of these 100 species, over half are dependent upon habitats provided in the region and constitute the priority SCGN. Current information about the status and distribution of the 23 SGCN reptiles and amphibians (e.g., mud snake, rainbow snake, spotted turtle, greater and lesser sirens, and yellow-bellied slider) is spotty at best in the watershed and is needed to help inform land use decisions. The Chickahominy River is the northern most location of the mud snake, which wasn’t described in this area until 2009. The spotted turtle is currently being petitioned for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act, and the Chickahominy River watershed maybe one of its strongholds in Virginia. In 2016, the Atlantic Coast leopard frog was discovered in New Kent and Charles City counties. This species was not described to science until 2014 and demonstrates the need for an in-depth herpetological investigation into this region.

This project will provide current status and distribution information about targeted SGCN in the lower Chickahominy River watershed.  Data will be gathered using survey techniques appropriate for each species (e.g., baited traps set in aquatic environments to sample for rainbow snakes; audible point surveys for frogs and toads) during seasons most appropriate for sampling these animals.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Rebecca Gwynn, 804.829.6720,

Project Status:

10/1/16 - 9/30/17; Project Open

Final Product:


Project Summary:


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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