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Virginia CZM Program: 2018 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA Coastal Zone Management Program logo



Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Virginia Oyster & Water Trail Eco-Tourism Promotion

Project Description:

The Eastern Shore, Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck will work together to build new and expand existing eco-tourism initiatives, particularly those created during year 1 of this project under grant number NA17NOS4190152. Collaboratively they will continue to create and refine uniform assets, such as digital mapping and digital engagement tools, to promote their similar assets and create ease of access to explore coastal Virginia. Efforts will bring focus on diverse coastal ecosystems, engage local stakeholders to avoid use conflicts, and create a sustainable plan for economic and educational initiatives that need long-term planning in order to survive and thrive. Together the regions encompass approximately 4,785 square miles of rural landscape with 5,300 miles of shoreline, a fact that has shaped the culture and economy of these historically linked regions. With a rich cultural history in water-based entrepreneurialism, this large, multi-regional project will support and generate direct, indirect, and induced jobs - jobs that rely on the conserved natural resources of rural coastal areas. The individual products and cumulative effects of this program will address identified targets in the 2014 New Virginia Economy Strategic Plan and Virginia Statewide Tourism Plan.

During year 2, the A-NPDC proposes to create the much needed Bayside Water Trail, sister to the Seaside Water Trail being updated during year 1, with connections to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Developing new and ecologically appropriate water access on the Atlantic shoreline is a foundation to create new waterside entrepreneurial opportunities. The MPPDC, known as Virginia’s River Country, is bordered on the south-west by the rivers of York, Pamunkey, Mattaponi, and Mobjack Bay (YPM2). The Mobjack Bay, specifically the Severn River, will be the focus of the year 2 inventory and eco-business water trail efforts in this region. The NNPDC will work to refine The Virginia Oyster Trail and to improve visibility and efforts around oyster-related travel and integrating the Oyster Trail assets with the new Water Trails website. All efforts to inventory assets and develop trails will use the National Water Trail System Best Management Practices toolbox and will focus on delivering cultural, historical, and stewardship messages, key to helping consumers understand the ecological importance and economic opportunities the Chesapeake Bay watershed presents. The water trails and associated web site will link to existing resources as much as possible, including the Oyster Trail, Artisan Trail, Birding and Wildlife trails, Virginia Tourism Corporation assets, etc.

Throughout the implementation of each region’s unique projects, there will be quarterly Rural Coastal Virginia Steering Committee meetings to exchange ideas, share progress, and learn from one-another. These collaborative meetings will continue to shape the regional message and outreach designs, ensure programs are compatible and comprehensive, and refine long-term plans for The Virginia Oyster Trail and the Virginia Ecotour Guide Certification Program.

During the third and final year of this effort, years 1 and 2 will be built upon through water trail expansion, oyster trail enhancement, and extensive marketing in concert with the Virginia tourism Corporation. Additional details about the Year 3 objectives can be found in Section VI. Extended Project Description.

In Virginia’s rural coastal regions these programs will help strengthen economic value, create jobs and sustain ecological assets in the face of stressors, such as decreasing population, declining economic growth and changing landscapes exacerbated by sea level-rise. The synergistic effect of working together across regional boundaries will produce results on a large scale, create a sustainable ecological and economic model, and show an environmental and economic return on investment for years to come.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Shannon Alexander, 757.787.2936 x115,

Project Status:

10/1/18 - 9/30/19; Project Open

Final Product:


Project Summary:


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:

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to or

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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