- Report Published -
|Study of Tidal Shoreline Management in Virginia: Recommendations for Living Shorelines and Tidal Resources Sustainability [SJR 35 (2010)]|
|Virginia Institute of Marine Science|
|SJR 35 (Regular Session, 2010)|
|Virginia now confronts the challenge of enhancing its existing tidal shoreline management programs to make them more efficient and effective. The programs have developed effective protocols for dealing with their individual purviews, but two issues have emerged: the diversity of programs has become confusing for the regulated community; and the environmental outcomes have not been optimal. This report summarizes a review of these issues and presents several recommendations for program enhancements that specifically focus on making Virginia’s tidal shoreline management more efficient and more effective.|
The perception is that the common goals of the various regulatory programs might be more effectively promoted across the Commonwealth if there were greater uniformity in procedures and more substantive integration of guidance for the individual programs.
Opportunities to reduce cost and time associated with shoreline management programs lie mostly in providing a more predictable, transparent process. Improved coordination among management agencies can achieve time and cost saving while at the same time improving the integration of the decisions. Savings can also be promoted by addressing gaps and over‐laps in the collection of program regulation and guidance that impact permitting decisions.
There are many financial incentive options to promote living shorelines that could be successful in Virginia. However, many of the options functionally reduce fees or revenues which often help off‐set the cost of regulatory permit programs. These options would potentially create a fiscal issue for agencies. Permit relief in the form of exemptions, general permits, or permit preference seems to be a viable option which if properly crafted, offers time and cost savings to property owners and permitting authorities. Depending upon the form that such relief might take, regulatory or legislative action is probably necessary.
Virginia does not have an official position on the use of living shorelines for erosion protection. A statement of policy that identifies a preference for the use of existing or enhanced natural shoreline habitats for erosion protection would provide recognition that living shoreline designs are a desirable approach for many of the Commonwealth’s tidal areas.
1. Virginia should develop integrated guidance for management of tidal shoreline systems. The guidance should identify preferred shoreline management approaches for the shoreline types found in Virginia. The intent should be for all regulatory authorities with purview over activities along Virginia’s tidal shorelines to use the guidance to achieve greater collective efficiency and effectiveness in management of the Commonwealth’s resources. Development of the guidance should be a cooperative effort involving the Department of Conversation and Recreation, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
2. Virginia should conduct a study to identify and assess any potential regulatory issues associated with development and implementation of integrated guidance for tidal shoreline management should be conducted.
3. Virginia should officially identify a preference for living shoreline designs as a management strategy for tidal shoreline systems. The policy could be articulated in the form of legislation, executive order, or regulation. However, a regulatory preference promulgated by one agency does not guarantee the same for other management entities. This might, therefore, fall short of establishing a unifying focus for regulatory programs that could improve efficiency and effectiveness of the Commonwealth’s shoreline management efforts. For this reason, a legislative or executive action would be preferable.
4. Virginia should develop and implement a general permit for living shorelines. The permit development process should involve the Department of Conversation and Recreation, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, with technical assistance from other shoreline management entities as necessary. The process should be coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to avoid conflicts with their permitting requirements.
5. Virginia should advance the efforts currently underway at VIMS to develop and promulgate comprehensive coastal resource management plans for all Tidewater localities. The plans should be specifically designed to support integrated management of current tidal shoreline resources, and should also provide information to support local planning efforts to adapt to changing conditions in the coastal zone, including sea level rise.
6. Virginia should promote the education of both public officials and the general public regarding the need for integrated shoreline management. Success in managing the risks to both human and natural resources will require both regulators and the regulated community to understand the issues and adjust expectations for what is possible and what is appropriate along Virginia’s shorelines.