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

Project Task:VA CZM logo

15

Grantee:

Wetlands Watch

Project Title:

Designing a Natural Resilience Project Proposal Database for Virginia

Project Description:

Natural and nature-based features, such as wetlands, beaches and dunes, can help reduce the impacts of flooding and storm surge on coastal communities.  They also provide critical habitat and perform important water quality protection functions.  However over time, sea level rise and other impacts of climate change may diminish these features and the benefits they provide.  The Virginia CZM Program and others have recognized their importance and undertaken a number of initiatives to help sustain these areas.

One of the actions recommended in the Virginia CZM Program’s 2016 – 2020 Section 309 Coastal Hazards Strategy to help sustain these features is to develop a coastal resiliency database, or atlas, to identify potential natural resilience-building projects.  Projects could include the creation of living shorelines, the beneficial use of dredged materials, wetlands restoration, beach nourishment or other techniques to expand natural resiliency.  The goal of this project is to provide a tool that better positions Virginia to obtain grants from various funding sources and to develop an understanding of where natural resilience-building projects are being planned to inform a more strategic approach to coastal resilience.  The need for a tool like this has been highlighted through several grant opportunities that have been challenging for Virginia applicants given limited information on potential projects and short grant application timeframes.

In order to help address this need, Wetlands Watch will facilitate a collaborative effort among member agencies of the Virginia Coastal Policy Team, the Office of the Secretary of Natural Resources, and other stakeholders to investigate the creation of a sortable resilience project database.    The database would provide a repository for potential projects and a flexible tool for analyzing these projects.  Its design and process for maintaining data would be based on input gathered by Wetlands Watch from stakeholders and potential end users. The database would be maintained and likely evolve over time as potential projects are added, funded projects are completed and new data needs are identified.  In order to help develop the database, Wetlands Watch will 1) meet with stakeholders to identify end-user needs, the fields to be included in the database and assess the availability of project data, 2) develop a draft database, or “strawman”, based on this input, and 3) present this information and a plan for long-term maintenance of the database at a workshop of stakeholders.  The tool should be easily accessible to stakeholders and allow users to sort projects based on their individual needs as well as funding sources’ criteria.

Federal Funding:

$19,326

Project Contact:

Ross Weaver, 804.787.3533, ross.weaver@wetlandswatch.org

Project Status:

9/1/18 - 3/31/19; Project Completed

Final Product:

Implementing Resilience: The Barriers and Opportunities in Inventorying Natural Resiliency Project Proposals (PDF) 

Project Summary:

Wetlands Watch has engaged in a comprehensive outreach program to gather stakeholder input on the development, design, and maintenance of a Virginia resilience project proposal database. The goal of this product was to help prepare localities and non-profit organizations for future funding opportunities, and to create a tool that matches eligible projects with various grants. Meetings were held with key representatives from the coastal planning district commissions, select local governments, state and federal agencies, and non-profit organizations to solicit feedback on the structure and format of this database as well as the project types and metrics to be incorporated within it. To populate the draft database, extensive research was done to identify existing project priorities and proposals through a multitude of local, regional, and state planning and programmatic documents.

A workshop was held at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to review the draft database and solicit further feedback as to its structure and content. Recommendations were recorded and used to further refine and enhance the database. That feedback, along with the comments received through individual meetings, webinars, and a presentation at the 2019 Marsh Resilience Summit, is documented in our final report. That final report also includes a needs assessment, a visual guide to using the database, and strategies to maximize its efficacy through the use of available tools, resources, and emerging initiatives. It also describes the barriers and limitations impacting this type of coastal-zone survey, and proposes an approach to incentivize local participation. This report will be available at wetlandswatch.org/publications.

In addition to the final report, the database is currently available online. It contains a number of projects already identified, incorporating the fields and metrics most requested by stakeholders, as well as a geospatial component. It has the ability to be sorted and filtered by project type, implementation phase, prioritization, and locality, among others. Addressing a need that was identified through the outreach process, the database also contains a comprehensive grant inventory, providing information on project eligibility, matching fund requirements, proposal deadlines, contact information, and Request for Proposals. A calendar view allows users to visualize when grant proposals are due, and this data can be directly imported into a personal calendar. In fact, all information available within the database can be directly downloaded to increase its flexibility and usability. A form included within the inventory allows users to quickly upload new projects or funding opportunities, with pre-filled options to increase ease of use. The database will be hosted on AdaptVA.org, increasing its utility through the website’s existing tools and data viewers. It can currently be accessed through the final report, or directly at http://bit.ly/VAdatabase. The form for uploading project proposals can be found at http://bit.ly/SubmitVAdatabase.

Upcoming meetings and workshops provide additional opportunities to enhance the database and input priority projects, as well as to test the idea that localities will contribute more proposals when given a financial incentive to do so. Project data has been shared with key state stakeholders responsible for developing Virginia’s first Coastal Master Plan, providing another benefit to this product as the Commonwealth begins to proactively plan its resiliency strategies. 

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 or April.Bahen@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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