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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 - Center for Coastal Resources Management

Project Title:

Tidal Shoreline Management Policies and Procedures Handbook

Project Description:

The project provides decision-making support for tidal wetlands boards. The project will specifically produce and disseminate a compilation of the relevant legislation, regulations, policies and procedures for decision-making on tidal shoreline resources in the Commonwealth. One of the primary motivations behind the production of this handbook is the need to institutionalize the experience and technical base accumulated during the decades of operation of the wetlands program, given the decentralized volunteer management system.  The need for information resources, specifically about jurisdictions, gaps and overlaps with other environmental regulatory programs and policies and procedures to help inform Wetland Board decision-making has been identified in a 2018 NOAA Project of Special Merit1 and by Board members, staff and other attendees of CCRM Wetland Workshops.

The handbook will be an update and follow-on to two previous guidance tools produced by the Center for Coastal Resources Management: 1) Answering local wetlands boards needs regarding guidance in investigating wetlands violations2 and 2) Wetlands Handbook circa 2003. The Wetlands Handbook was produced with support of the VCZMP. Both of these information resources were very popular and frequently used as reference during public hearings and by board members and staff. Many notable changes limit the accuracy and relevance of the earlier material to current shoreline management decisions promoting our proposal to update the handbook as significant changes in legislation and regulation for shoreline resources (such as the 2011 “Living Shorelines Act” recently evaluated by CCRM via NOAA funded project of special merit), notable advancement in guidance to reflect improved scientific understanding regarding coastal resources and their roles in ecosystem services and improved communication processes and delivery systems such as digital reports, websites and email.

The content of the handbook will include up-to-date language of laws, guidelines, policies, and informational statements such as Attorneys' General opinions pertinent to tidal wetlands, beaches, dunes, the riparian buffer and other pertinent coastal resources relevant to tidal shoreline management decision-making. It will also include a review of the permit process and the respective roles of the Wetlands Board, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, federal agencies and others. This latter information should be especially helpful to new appointees who wish to familiarize themselves with not only their specific roles as wetland and dune managers, but also with the overall shoreline management process within which the local wetlands boards play an integral role.

CCRM will engage several partners with particular knowledge and experience; the Virginia Coastal Policy Center, College of William and Mary Law School, Clay Bernick, City of Virginia Beach Environmental Programs- retired, and Cynthia Hall, City of Norfolk Attorney. Clay Bernick will serve as primary contact with local governments and solicit their input on the information gaps and needs for the handbook content. VCPC and Cynthia Hall will work on the legislation, regulations and guidance compilation and subsequent translation and explanations. Karen Duhring, CCRM, will lead the outreach effort. We propose to coordinate with VMRC, DEQ and other appropriate agencies or authorities.

The handbooks will be provided in a digital format to each Wetlands Board and other appropriate local government offices (i.e. Planning Commission, local attorney), VMRC, DEQ, SWCD and others as identified during the project. We will post the handbook on the CCRM website in a printer friendly format, highlight the handbook via one of CCRM bimonthly e-news and present a webinar on the material.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Pam Mason, 804.684.7158,
Kirk Havens, 804.684.7386,

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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