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

Project Task:VA Coastal Zone Management Program logo



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Project Title:

Expanding the Use of Natural and Nature-based Infrastructure to Enhance Coastal Resiliency

Project Description:

The vulnerability of coastal communities and the growing risks of coastal infrastructure continue largely due to past and ongoing patterns of development in high risk areas. This project is focused on increasing the use of natural and nature-based features (NNBFs) to increase resilience of coastal communities to flooding caused by extreme weather events. The project effectively addresses two problems:

  • The natural capital of coastal communities is generally declining, and is projected to decline at an accelerating rate due to sea level rise and current land use practices.
  • The use of NNBFs to sustain or increase resilience in coastal communities is restricted by the many competing needs for limited local resources.

There has been so much attention to the threats and potential consequences of storm driven flooding in coastal communities that almost no local government official is unaware of the issue. Most also have some general understanding of actions that can lower risks and increase resilience. The problem is that the resources required to undertake those actions are limited and, in the face of competing interests, it is difficult to rationalize making them a priority. One solution to accelerating the pace of building resilience is to find ways to address multiple needs with each action, taking advantage of the co-benefits available from carefully planned projects.

The proposed project will identify local opportunities to increase community resilience to extreme weather, specifically flooding events, with projects that can garner co-benefits by addressing the local need for enhancing resiliency and regulatory requirements such as nutrient reduction and best management practices. We propose to do this in a form that is spatially explicit and formatted specifically for each locality in Virginia’s coastal zone.

There are Chesapeake Bay Program approved processes for crediting nature based solutions in order to address the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. Local governments and state entities can garner benefits toward nutrient reduction requirements by implementing nature based solutions such as living shorelines. This proposal will therefore focus on identifying areas where NNBF can offer such cobenefits as shoreline resiliency to storm action and nutrient reduction credits. We will accomplish this by spatially analyzing through our Shoreline Inventory and our Shoreline Management Model (SMM):

  1. Existing natural features, such as marshes, to be maintained, and
  2. Recommend the restoration or construction of new natural infrastructure

To do this we will value add to the current version of the model to specifically improve recommendations along currently defended shorelines identifying opportunities to “retrofit” existing hardened shorelines to incorporate NNBF features. This analysis will contribute information to improve our understanding of the spatial distribution of NNBF that supports resource migration and coastal resiliency in a locality.

We will use the finding of the project to enhance two current Tools developed for local government use: the Comprehensive Coastal Resource Management Portals which provide guidance on the use and site specific suitability of living shorelines for erosion control and compliance with the state’s preference for living shoreline use under section §28.2-1000 of the Code of Virginia; and the AdaptVA Portal which provides evidence-based tools and resources for local governments planning for a changing climate and seeking information on adaptation and building resilience.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Marcia Berman, 804.684.7188,

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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