Category Archives: Land Use

Items related to agriculture, preservation, development, forestry, and other land-based activities that affect water resources.

State of the Urban Forest in Virginia Beach Report for 2016

In early May 2016, the City of Virginia Beach released “How Do Trees Benefit Virginia Beach? – State of the Urban Forest 2016/2017.”  The eight-page asserts that currently an estimated 3.2 million trees in Virginia Beach provide over $263 million annually in five areas of benefits: stormwater-runoff reduction, energy conservation, air-quality improvement, property value, and carbon dioxide reduction.  The report also describes the city’s efforts to increase its tree canopy, fund tree planting and maintenance, provide citizen education about the benefits of trees, and preserve historic trees.

The report is available online at, or phone the City at (757) 385-3111.

Additional source: Virginia Beach quantifies the benefits of Urban Forest, WTKR TV-Virginia Beach, 5/5/16.

Another Chapter in Virginia Streams and Kings Grants: April 2016 Lawsuit by Craig County Property Owners over Stream Navigability Determinations by Va. Marine Resources Commission in March 2015

April 2016 brought another development in the long-running issue in Virginia of streambed ownership, Kings (or Crown) Grants, and access to waterways for navigation, recreation, or other activities.

On April 7, 2016, in Craig County Circuit Court, two citizens and two businesses that own property along Johns Creek in Craig County sued the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) and VMRC Commissioner John Bull over the VMRC’s determination in March 2015 that parts of Johns Creek and 13 other streams in Virginia are navigable and therefore open for public boating, based on the drainage area of the streams sections each exceeding five square miles.  The stream sections were in the following 14 waterways: Barbours Creek, Craig County; Blackwater River (North Fork), Franklin County; Bullpasture River, Highland and Bath counties; Cedar Creek, Shenandoah County; Colliers/Buffalo Creek, Rockbridge County; Gooney Run, Warren County; Irish Creek, Rockbridge County; Jennings Creek, Botetourt County; Johns Creek, Craig County; North Creek, Botetourt County; Passage Creek, Shenandoah and Warren counties; Piney River, Amherst and Nelson counties; Potts Creek, Alleghany and Craig counties; and Wolf Creek, Bland and Tazewell counties.

The determination that these stream sections were navigable was given in a March 17, 2015, letter by VMRC Commissioner Bull to Virginia State Senator David Marsden (D-37th) of Fairfax County, who had requested the determination for these particular stream sections based on recommendations by stream-paddling enthusiasts.  (The letter from Mr. Bull to Sen. Marsden is available online at the Virginia Places Web site, at; see Reference #8, as of 4/12/16).  The plaintiffs in the Craig County lawsuit claim Kings Grant ownership of the stream bottom in a part of Johns Creek declared navigable by the VMRC; the plaintiffs assert that the VMRC determination amounted to a public “taking” of property without due process or compensation, which would violate the U.S. Constitution.

News sources and ongoing list of articles (listed from oldest to newest):
State review opens Virginia waterways to the public, Roanoke Times, 8/16/15.
Craig County landowners sue over paddling, property rights, Roanoke Times, 4/10/16.

For more information:
“King’s Grants/Crown Grants,” on Charles Grymes’ “Virginia Places” Web site, online at – a detailed treatment of this issue, including several maps, aerial photos, and links to pertinent documents (including the March 17, 2015, letter from VMRC Commissioner John Bull to State Sen. David Marsden; see also for an explanation of the Virginia Places Web site, developed by Charles Grymes as part of his teaching of geography at George Mason University).

VMRC’s “Subaqueous Guidelines,” available online at – describes regulations relevant to stream navigation and other issues concerning the beds of water bodies.

Previous Water Central News Grouper post on this issue – November 2012 Update on Court Case over Stream Ownership and Access Rights on Jackson River in Alleghany County, Va.

Virginia Water Center reports on recreational rights in Virginia waters – Inland Recreational Fishing Rights in Virginia: Implications of the Virginia Supreme Court Case Kraft v. Burr, 1999, online at; and “Public Recreational Rights on Virginia’s Inland Streams,” 1980, online at

Erosion and Sediment Control Planning and Design are Focus of April 28, 2016, Workshop in Hickory, N.C., Organized by the North Carolina Water Resources Research Institute

On April 28, 2016, in Hickory, N.C., the North Carolina Water Resources Research Institute (located at North Carolina State University; online at will hold an Erosion and Sediment Control Planning and Design Workshop for Design Professionals, Contractors, and Developers.  According to the organizers, the workshop aims to provide information on sediment control activities, requirements, and best practices in North Carolina as related to the NC Sedimentation Pollution Control Act.  Professional Development Hour (PDH) credits (for engineers and surveyors) and Continuing Education Units (for landscape architects) will be available.  More information:; (919) 515-2815; e-mail:

Fiscal Year 2017 Funding under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program; Applications Due to NRCS by May 10, 2016

On March 10, 2016, the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS; part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) announced the opening of the application period for over $260 million in Fiscal Year 2017 funding under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

According to the RCPP Web site (, these grants aim to promote “coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners. …RCPP combines the authorities of four former conservation programs: the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and the Great Lakes Basin Program.  Assistance is delivered in accordance with the rules of EQIP, CSP, ACEP and HFRP; and in certain areas the Watershed Operations and Flood Prevention Program.”

NRCS estimates that it will provide about $263 million to about 85 projects for FY 2017.  The application deadline for FY 2017 funding is May 10, 2016.  Information on applying for grants for FY 2017 is available online at; or contact your local office of the NRCS or your local Soil and Water Conservation District office.

Additional source: USDA Announces $260 Million Available for Regional Conservation Partnership Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture News Release, 3/10/16.

For a previous Water Central News Grouper item on the recipients of grants in 2016, please see 84 Projects Nationwide, Including Two in Virginia, Awarded Funds in Fiscal Year 2016 from the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (posted 2/17/16).

An Introduction to Living Shorelines in Mar. 14, 2016, Washington Post Article

Reshaping the Chesapeake Bay, one living shoreline at a time, by Gabriel Popkin, in The Washington Post, 3/14/16, gives an introduction to the history and growth in the Chesapeake region of the practice of reducing shoreline erosion by using “living shorelines”—areas of living marsh plants and other biological material, instead of, or in addition to, traditional hard structures.   The article is available online at, or contact the Post’s reprint contractor, PARS, at 253 West 35th Street-7th Floor, New York, NY 10001; Email:; phone (212) 221-9595.

More information about living shorelines is available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), online at; the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) Center for Coastal Resources Management, online at; and many other organizations.  Also, several other Water Central News Grouper posts on living shorelines are available at this link:

Rain Garden Facts and Fiction Discussed in Winter 2016 Issue of Conservation Currents from the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District

True or false: That spot in your backyard that is always soggy and never dries out is a perfect place for a rain garden.  Not necessarily true!

In fact, that’s Myth #1 of “Seven Myths about Rain Gardens,” in the Winter 2016 issue of Conservation Currents, the newsletter of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, located in Fairfax.  As the article notes, rain gardens are “a great way to handle runoff on your property, but it is important to do it right.”  The article gives some key, basic facts to help property owners investigate the possibility of using a rain garden to help manage stormwater runoff.

The article is available online at; or contact the District at 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 905, Fairfax, VA 22035; phone (703) 324-1460, TTY 711; e-mail:

A Brief Look at the Long History of Soil and Water Conservation in Northern Virginia

In 2015, the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), located in Fairfax, celebrated its 70th anniversary of responding to northern Virginia’s various soil and water issues, particularly those caused by the area’s widespread and intensive growth and development over the past several decades.  “70 Years of Conservation Leadership,” in the Fall 2015 issue of the District’s newsletter, Conservation Currents, takes a brief look back at the history of the District, which originally served not only Fairfax County but also Loudoun and Prince William counties, both of which established their own SWCDs in 1971.

The article is available online at; or contact the District at 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 905, Fairfax, VA 22035; phone (703) 324-1460, TTY 711; e-mail: