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

Project Task:VA CZM logo

5

Grantee:

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage

Project Title:

Habitat Conservation/Locality Liaison

Project Description:

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. Improvements to the NHDE will continue during this grant period including an upgrade of the website. The Locality Liaison will assist with the development of the scope of work, testing and training for the upgraded website. 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://www.coastalgems.org/). An overall goal of the DCR-Virginia Natural Heritage program is that 97% of the counties and cities throughout the Virginia Coastal Zone will be provided with Natural Heritage information by the end of September 2017.  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:

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

Project Status:

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

Final Product:

Natural Heritage - Locality Liaison/Habitat Restoration Final Report for FY 2016 (PDF) 

Project Summary:

During the FY2016 grant year, the Locality Liaison reviewed 983 projects for impacts to natural heritage resources in the coastal zone (42% of the projects reviewed statewide). Projects for renewable energy this year, included sixteen different solar projects. DCR has continued to work with Environmental Resources Management to assure that the WB – Express project in Fairfax County will not impact documented natural heritage resources.  DCR has also been coordinating with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) to find solutions to mitigate the impacts of two projects on natural heritage resources; Forest Hills Estates in Stafford County and Independence Boulevard in the City of Newport News.

 

Coastal localities and other conservation partners participated in six training sessions for the Natural Heritage Data Explorer (NHDE) website (https://vanhde.org) including 22 from state agencies, 2 from local governments, and 8 from consulting companies. At the end of FY216, there were twenty-six coastal counties and fifteen coastal cities, eight Planning District Commissions and nineteen land trusts within the Coastal Zone with access to natural heritage data through NHDE, digital shapefile data, and/or a combination of these tools. This equates to 93% of Coastal Zone counties or cities having Natural Heritage data, 100% of the Planning District Commissions and 76% of the Land Trusts within the coastal zone.

 

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 Community Database Search. In addition, other online conservation tools were presented including the Virginia Wetlands Catalog, the Coastal Ecological Value Assessment (Coastal VEVA), which is part of the Virginia DEQ’s Coastal GEMS, and the Virginia Potential Land Conservation Treasures layers. Natural Heritage information was updated quarterly on the NHDE website and shapefiles including the updated information are also distributed to licensed users. During FY16, 495 coastal projects were submitted through the NHDE, 50% of all the projects submitted in the coastal zone. 72 of these projects were “No Comment” projects for which NHDE users received reports within 10 minutes of project submittal.

 

The locality liaison participated in the Chesapeake Bay Comprehensive Water Resource and Restoration Plan, the Virginia CZM’s Coastal Partners Workshop and participated on a panel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Virginia Marine Debris Emergency Response Planning for Stakeholders Workshop. The locality liaison also gave a presentation to the Women’s Club of Sandston about the Natural Heritage program and its mission to protect biodiversity in Virginia.

 

The Locality Liaison renewed or initiated 49 coastal natural heritage data licenses throughout this grant year, including localities, consultants, land trusts, educational institutions, state agencies, federal agencies and planning district commissions.

 

The Locality Liaison also posted 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.

 

Northampton County 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 during the comprehensive planning process. In addition, the locality liaison worked with Spotsylvania County on its upcoming comprehensive plan update.

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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