Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper
Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper
Project Description as Proposed:
The Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper program will continue to conduct year round on-the-water observations to investigate, assess and document citizen allegations of harmful activity, participate in the public process, and to minimize the growing potential for conflict between aquaculture industry and mainland impacts. The Shorekeeper will serve as an ombudsman for the seaside bays and provide an additional set of eyes and ears to alert the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) or other appropriate agencies on issues relating to the protection of sensitive natural resources. The Shorekeeper and volunteer Creek Watchers will ensure publicly funded oyster reef sanctuaries are protected from illegal harvest, eelgrass beds, planted under the auspices of the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (VA-CZM), are not damaged and rare beach and colonial nesting birds are not disturbed. The completion of the Seaside Water Trail Map & Guide, funded by VA-CZM, will be distributed and marketed as an additional public information tool to better educate the canoe & kayak community on sensitive natural resources. A feasibility study will look into "camping platforms" as potential enhancements to the Seaside Water Trail. Public education focused on protection of beach nesting shorebirds will be distributed through fact sheets and other information materials at local public boat launching points. A Creek Watchers volunteer training program will continue to recruit volunteers to broaden its monitoring of human impacts to sensitive marine resources. Successful cooperative work between the Shorekeeper and the shellfish aquaculture industry will work to adopting voluntary hard clam aquaculture Best Management Practices (BMP's) and to jointly address water quality issues affecting the industry and seaside waters.
David Burden, 757.678.6182; firstname.lastname@example.org
10/1/2006 - 9/30/2007; Project Completed
Final Product Received:
"Patrol Summary - Observations and Reports of Human Activity on the Atlantic Barrier Islands on the Eastern Shore of Virginia - 20 Report" (pdf)
" Seaside Water Trail Camping Platform Feasibility Report" - October 2008 (pdf)
Project Summary Provided by Grantee:
The Virginia Eastern SHOREKEEPER continued to patrol the Seaside waters of the Eastern Shore during FY 2006, respond to citizen concerns regarding coastal water quality, and reach out to the public through educational presentations to encourage greater understanding of the barrier island, salt marsh, coastal lagoon, and creek eco-systems of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. While the SHOREKEEPER has no enforcement authority, working with county, state, and federal officials has resulted in effective enforcement of regulations and mitigation of violations in response to concerns raised by the SHOREKEEPER. The volunteer Creekwatcher program continued to be a vital part of the SHOREKEEPER organization, and work is ongoing to expand its range.
In addition to being the primary means of observing threats and potential threats to the Seaside ecosystems, random boat and aerial patrols allowed the SHOREKEEPER to monitor publicly funded oyster sanctuary reefs and discourage poaching, as well as assist in the ongoing restoration of sea grass beds and other active research projects on the Seaside.
Public awareness is a key component of the SHOREKEEPER mission, and this year there were some excellent tools available to assist in this effort. Both the Seaside Water Trail Map and Guide and the Barrier Island Nesting Birds brochures funded by VA-CZM were distributed throughout the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The water trail in particular played a prominent role in the SHOREKEEPER activities this year. In addition to developing a Feasibility Study for the placement of camping platforms on the Seaside Water Trail, the SHOREKEEPER also interacted with many users of the new trail system. While the overall number or human users on the Seaside decreased this year, kayak activity seemed to focus more on the trail system with more paddlers from outside the region on the water.
Results from the feasibility study for camping platforms indicated that there is a potential conflict between land managers who would like to discourage use of the seaside, and members of the public who would like increased use of this area for recreational and commercial purposes. Camping platforms may provide an opportunity for compromise that would discourage camping on the islands, and provide a means for monitoring or limiting use. However, any discussion or plans for camping platforms should include all affected land managers and be conducted with awareness of not only human impacts on the ecosystem, but also in such a way as to minimize any threats to the safety of all users. The study also identified areas where land based camping sites would greatly enhance the water trail.
The local clam aquaculture industry continued to grow, and the SHOREKEEPER continued to work with both local researchers and local clammers to encourage the development and implementation of Best Management Practices for all aspects of this thriving industry. The successful clam net removal and monitoring program continued to reduce the amount of clam net that gets loose in the ecosystem, and the clammers are improving their monitoring and retention of this material.
While there was an increase in public awareness of human threats to barrier island nesting birds and other sectors of the seaside ecosystem, and an increase in public awareness of responsible use opportunities in these areas, there remains a great deal of work to do in this area. Successful protection of the Seaside of the Eastern Shore depends on a very high level of public understanding of the ecosystem, as well as their impacts on it. The Eastern Shore of Virginia provides an exceptional opportunity for ecosystem protection and preservation, and the Virginia Eastern SHOREKEEPER continues to act as the eyes and ears of the community on the water to ensure that this opportunity is not missed.
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