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

Project Task:VA CZM logo

8

Grantee:

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage

Project Title:

Healthy Waters Program in the Coastal Zone

Project Description:

Funding through this grant will be used to support the implementation of the Virginia Healthy Waters Program (HWP) within the Division of Natural Heritage at the Virgnia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR) as it applies to advancing the identification, interpretation and protection of aquatic communities . This task includes the administration and development of the Program, delivery of tools and products of the VDCR Division of Natural Heritage such as the Virginia Ecological Values Assessment (VEVA), development of Ecological Occurrences (EOs), Stream Conservation Units (SCUs), INSTAR data, Coastal Gems and Watershed Integrity Model, in the Coastal Zone of Virginia. The Program Manager will work with both the VDCR Division of Natural Heritage and the VDEQ to fully implement the Program to achieve lasting benefits for the Commonwealth.

An Environmental Scientist/Analyst will be retained through a contractual arrangement with the Center for Environmental Studies (CES), Department of Life Sciences and the Rice Rivers Center located at Virginia Commonwealth University.  The individual will continue to be housed in the DCR Division of Natural Heritage and have access to the facilities and expertise of the VDCR and continue to integrate the skills and abilities of the CES, as well. The position also serves as a liaison between DCR and the CES at VCU to promote joint, applied research and outreach projects. This includes the oversight of programs, projects, grants and grant budgets, providing technical support to VDCR Natural Heritage Division and the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, as it relates to coastal zone ecology, management, and restoration.  In addition to above, the focus of this grant will be the development and updating of data relevant to the Chickahominy watershed and an updating of the VEVA model.

This position will also continue to participate in state, local, or federal working groups as needed with regard to water quality protection and restoration issues as the VDCR deems necessary.  In addition, the Program Manager will prepare semiannual and annual reports and other technical documents.

Federal Funding:

$27,000

Project Contact:

Jason Bulluck, 804.786.8377, jbulluck@dcr.virginia.gov

Project Status:

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

Final Product:

Healthy Waters in the Coastal Zone FY 16 Final Report (PDF)

Project Summary:

For the grant reporting period, the Environmental Scientist/Analyst with the Virginia Commonwealth University, Center for Environmental Studies in the Department of Life Sciences continued to serve as the Program Manager of the Virginia Healthy Waters Program at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage.

The Healthy Waters Program is supported through funding from several grant sources including the VA CZM Section 306, US EPA 319 Nonpoint Source Program, and the Chesapeake Bay Implementation Grant. These sources fund various aspects of the Program including the administration and oversight, Program growth and expansion, improvement in capacity, acquisition and analysis of new data and data integration. The Healthy Waters Program, at the VDCR Natural Heritage Division, saw significant growth during the reporting period. Programmatically, the assessment of program resources and needs has been an ongoing process of discussions regarding staff resources with senior staff, data collection to support a statewide expansion and the development of internal staff capacity.

The grant supported the development of an analysis and prioritization of statewide SCUs and a vulnerability assessment of existing healthy water sites in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The analysis and prioritization of the SCUs was initiated to result in an identification of those SCUs deemed “most valuable” to guide conservation planning on a watershed scale ensuring ecologically healthy aquatic conditions are maintained. This activity, diverges from the typical work of the DNH and bridges the DNH Sections of Healthy Waters, Protection and Stewardship. The vulnerability assessment is intended to identify those healthy sites most likely to be affected by changes in land use or land cover, resulting in a loss of healthy sites. This assessment is being conducted by the NHP staff under the Data Management Section and will be shared with the Bay Program to inform the Management Strategies to ensure 100% of State identified healthy waters remain in 2025.

The VDCR HWP began the process to develop and submit a proposal to the US Endowment of Forestry and Communities to support the Healthy Waters Program. This proposal would include a field position that would directly work in support of conservation and protection actions to ensure ecologically healthy aquatic conditions are maintained under the Healthy Waters Program. Likely partners on an application will include Nature Conservancy, Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, VA DEQ, and VA DOF. The Program Manager continued to meet with both the James River Association and the Friends of Rappahannock River to discuss how the INSTAR data and HWP might inform their protection actions in their respective regions. The HWP also met with USEPA Region 3 Office to discuss better integrating HWP data into the Watershed Resources Registry.

Also the VA Oyster Shell Recycling Program at the VCU Rice Rivers Center receives a small amount of support through this grant. That funding supported the development of banners, stickers, purchase of containers and contributed to the bulk movement of shell from local storage sites to the VCU Rice Rivers Center. The Program saw considerable growth through other funding sources during the project period with expansion of operations that included a broadening of the geography of the collection adding Northern Virginia and Lynchburg as new collection sites and beginning applied restoration. The partnership with the WE Kellum Oyster and conservation partners resulted in the restoration of a historic oyster rock in Carter’s Creek using recycled shell. A one acre reef was deeded and shell was applied by the VOSRP and WE Kellum Oyster with a dedication that took place at the Tides Inn during June 2017. The reef was also selected by the VA Department of Conservation and Recreation as a Virginia Treasure and renamed from Carter’s Rock to Ellery Kellum Rock in memory of the founders of WE Kellum Oyster. The Program brokering of a relationship with the seafood industry resulted in a partnership with Island Seafood/J&W Seafood of Deltaville resulting in a very successful first season of applied restoration. During the spring 2017, the shell were seeded with 8M eyed, diploid oyster larvae that were planted in the Piankatank River.

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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