Virginia CZM Program: 2017 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 DNH such as the Virginia Ecological Values Assessment (VEVA), development of Ecological Occurrences (EOs), Stream Conservation Units (SCUs), INSTAR data, Coastal Gems and ConservationVIsion Watershed Model, in the Coastal Zone of Virginia. The Program Manager will work with both the VDCR DNH 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 DNH and the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, as it relates to coastal zone ecology, management, and restoration.

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:

Todd Janeski, 804.371.8984; todd.janeski@dcr.virginia.gov

Project Status:

10/1/17 - 9/30/18; Project Completed

Final Product:

Healthy Waters in the Coastal Zone 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 continued to support the development of statewide SCUs and assessments of existing healthy water sites in the Chesapeake Bay watershed 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. Focus was on data delivery for the Chickahominy River system, development of new research to determine benefits of protected lands (Dragon Run and through implementation of DOF forest products extraction processes). The Commonwealth committed to the Chesapeake Bay Program Healthy Watershed Goal of protecting 100% of those healthy waters sites identified in the 2014 data with few opportunities for direct comparison across years with the added benefit of using similar methods and datasets. These results will inform and outline a planned approach to land conservation in an important Chesapeake Bay watershed but also to meet the Bay Program Healthy Watershed Goal.

The VDCR HWP developed and submitted another proposal to the US Endowment of Forestry and Communities to support the Healthy Waters Program. That proposal included 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 and would have established a land trust to manage those protected resources. However, DCR was informed that despite the high ranking of the proposal, it was not awarded. The partners of this application included the Virginia Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, VA DEQ, VA DOF and a private land broker.  The Program Manager continued to meet with both the James River Association and a private land broker 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 anonymous private donations and other funding sources during the project period with expansion of operations that included a broadening of the geography of the collection. Most notably, the program planted 7 million oysters as part of their restoration activities and entered into a partnership with TNC and MRC to construct 15 acres of new areas in the Piankatank.

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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