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

Project Task:VA CZM logo

9

Grantee:

Department of Conservation and Recreation

Project Title:

Migratory Bird Habitat Acquisition & Restoration, Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve (MBNAP)

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. 

Federal Funding:

$300,000

Project Contact:

Laura McKay, 804.698.4323, laura.mckay@deq.virginia.gov

Project Status:

10/1/16 - 3/31/18; Project Completed

Final Product:

Migratory Bird Habitat Acquisition & Restoration, Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve (MBNAP) Final Report (PDF) 

Spady Tract Deed (PDF)

Project Summary:

Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve (MBNAP) is a state-owned natural area preserve managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The preserve is located in Northhampton County, Virginia within the “Southern Tip” of the Lower Delmarva Peninsula. This location has long been recognized as a major stopover area for fall migrating birds. Fee simple land acquisition and restoration of agricultural lands to native vegetation is a successful and proven strategy for increasing available migratory bird habitat in the region.

Components of this project included purchase of a 105.58-acre tract that will eventually undergo habitat restoration, implementation of 53.7 acres of songbird habitat restoration on an adjacent and previously acquired tract, and establishment of 1.5 acre pollinator habitat demonstration area.  DCR closed on the 105.58 acre addition to MBNAP in April 2019 increasing the overall protected acreage at MBNAP to 445.16 acres. DCR completed the restoration components of the project in March and April 2019 following a proven approach to jump starting songbird habitat restoration on former agricultural fields.  An outline of the restoration effort was as follows:

In September 2018, a winter wheat cover crop was planted to conserve nutrients, reduce soil loss and suppress competing weeds on the recently abandoned farm land. In March 2019 DCR, along with the help of volunteers, planted 1,178 containerized (1-gal) wax myrtle (Morella cerifera) shrubs and 340 oak saplings.  Wax myrtle, a fast-growing native evergreen shrub, was added to provide year-round bird cover, fix nitrogen, and provide a preferred songbird food source rapidly.  Oak saplings were planted to introduce a tree component that otherwise would not be present in an early successional forest, as well as to provide immediate structure for bird perches and promote dispersal (via droppings) and establishment of other preferred food plants (e.g. black cherry, blackgum, sassafras, muscadine grape, greenbriar, etc.).

In early April 2019, the southwest 1.5-acre corner of the Medlin Tract was prepared by disking and sowed with common milkweed seed to establish an interpretive pollinator demonstration site along the Southern Tip Hike and Bike Trail.

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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