Two big changes came to Virginia shoreline management in 2020. Legislation was passed to require the incorporation of climate change into tidal habits and buffer management programs. Managed under two different sections in Virginia law, the new language helps promote an integrated perspective that reflects the ecologic and socio-economic continuum and connectivity of the shorescape ecosystem.
- The Virginia Marine Resources Commission is to permit only living shorelines based on best available science and develop standards to ensure protection of shorelines and sensitive coastal habitats
- The State Water Control Board is to consider 1) tree preservation and planting and 2) coastal resilience and sea level rise as factors relevant to protection of water quality in crafting criteria for Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas.
New LegislationNew language is in BOLD.
Living Shoreline Policy
It is the policy of the Commonwealth to support living shorelines as the preferred alternative for stabilizing tidal shorelines; The Commission shall permit only living shoreline approaches to shoreline management unless the best available science shows that such approaches are not suitable. If the best available science shows that a living shoreline approach is not suitable, the Commission shall require the applicant to incorporate, to the maximum extent possible, elements of living shoreline approaches into permitted projects. [Code of Virginia § 28.2-104.1]
Tidal Wetlands and Sea Level Rise
The Commission shall preserve and prevent the despoliation and destruction of wetlands while accommodating necessary economic development in a manner consistent with wetlands preservation and any standards set by the Commonwealth in addition to those identified in § 28.2-1308 to ensure protection of shorelines and sensitive coastal habitats from sea level rise and coastal hazards, including guidelines and minimum standards promulgated by the Commission… [Code of Virginia § 28.2-1301]
Chesapeake Bay Preservation
Provisions to include tree preservation and planting AND coastal resilience and adaptation to sea-level rise and climate change was added to the list of elements to be encouraged and promoted.
“(v) preservation of mature trees or planting of trees as a water quality protection tool and as a means of providing other natural resource benefits; (vi) coastal resilience and adaptation to sea-level rise and climate change…” Code of Virginia § 62.1-44.15:72.
CCRM Guidance Documents
- Integrated Shoreline Guidance was produced to inform development of updated Tidal Wetlands guidance.
- Living Shorelines Amendment Brief
CCRM Shoreline Decision ToolsThe most current scientific understanding based on CCRM research and published literature underpin shoreline decision support tools. The Shoreline Management Model, and the research behind it including the Tidal Marsh and Comprehensive Shoreline Inventories, and other CCRM reports and products on flooding, including sea level rise maps are incorporated in the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework.
Self-Guided Decision Trees
Description: A series of tree-like flow charts with questions and answers about shoreline characteristics that leads the user to the environmentally preferred approach for management of that shoreline.
Target Audience: For use by local government staff, citizen board members, and state regulatory and non-regulatory agents involved in shoreline management project review and permitting.
Format: Printable handout
Gateway: Self-Guided Decision Trees
Shoreline Management Model
Description: The Shoreline Management Model (SMM) is a GIS model that applies decision tree logic to derive the best management practices for a shoreline and where living shorelines are suitable. In the current version (v 5.1) there are 6 possible shoreline best management practices: 1) non-structural living shoreline, 2) plant marsh with sill, 3) groin field with beach nourishment, 4) maintain beach or construct offshore breakwater with beach nourishment, 5) revetment, and 6) revetment/bulkhead toe revetment.
The model is limited in ability to derive a preferred shoreline management practice for settings where remotely sensed data is limited or best practices require highly engineered solutions, such as intensely developed landscapes or shorelines with banks greater than 30 feet high. This means there are sections of the shoreline that do not produce a recommendation of management. The model output for these condition is captured under “Special Considerations” to address ecological or land use management conflicts, special geomorphic features, and engineering challenges.
The model is available for all of Tidewater Virginia, along major portions of the Gulf of Mexico, and portions of Maryland. Since the model is automated, the user merely needs to identify the location of the site of interest. No other knowledge is required.
Target Audience: The model was primarily developed for use by local government staff, citizen board members, and state regulatory agents involved in shoreline management project review and permitting.
Format: It is best used for desk-top reviews. Shoreline Management Model v. 5.1, 2019
Gateway: Shoreline Management Model output is delivered for each locality in a Comprehensive Map Viewer and digital shape file found in CCRMP Locality Portals. Or see the state-wide viewer here ADAPTVA.
Shoreline Decision Support Tool
Description: The Decision Support Tool (DST) was just released in 2020. It is an interactive tool that combines on-site observations with Shoreline Management Model recommendations to provide on the fly shoreline best management options based on user input to a sequence of questions. There are imbedded help menus, photos, examples and links for more information to assist the user in answering questions accurately and following up on next steps. Developed with support through NOAA’s RESTORE Program.
Target Audience: The DST is for homeowners, marine contractors, local government staff, citizen board members, and state regulatory agents involved in shoreline management project review and permitting.
Format: Interactive program that works on desktop and mobile devices.
Gateway: Shoreline Decision Support Tool