Light Symbol from 1:2400 Topographic Maps ---
This layer was generated by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) with cooperation from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC). VMRC sites, surveys, and creates oyster reefs in Virginia. On Virginia Seaside Water Trail maps, sanctuary reefs are depicted as point features (using GPS) although the actual reefs are two or three dimensional shell piles ranging in size from 0.5 acres to 1 acre. Most restored oyster reefs on the Seaside were funded through the Oyster Heritage Program and the Seaside Heritage Program, both Virginia CZM Program initiatives, although other organizations (e.g., The Nature Conservancy) have also built reefs. Signs are now posted at all Virginia Oyster Heritage Program Sanctuary Reefs. The signs identify each reef by name and serve as a reminder that "No Oyster Harvesting" is allowed on these reefs. For more information on the Virginia CZM Program's oyster reef restoration efforts.
Clam farming on Virginia's Eastern Shore currently represents a 30-40 million dollar industry. Along the Virginia Seaside Water Trail, you may notice large areas within the shallows which have been permitted through the Commonwealth of Virginia for bottom aquaculture of shellfish (primarily hard clams). Clam aquaculture sites are managed by the VMRC, a partner in the Virginia CZM Program, to better assess, plan, and guide aquaculture development in Virginia. Clams which are being grown out to market size are usually in very organized beds marked by PVC stakes (see in the photograph below). Current issues surrounding clam aquaculture focus on water quality and use conflicts (i.e., note the potential conflict between submerged aquatic vegetation and clam beds in above photograph).
Nationwide, invasive species are the number two threat to biological diversity, second only to the loss of species and habitat from development and urban sprawl. On the Virginia Eastern Shore, one invasive wetland grass known as the common reed (Phragmites austrailis) can grow to 4 meters tall and quickly crowd out native marsh vegetation. Approximately 2,024 acres of Phragmites currently exist on the seaside of Virginia's Eastern Shore, with the largest patch covering over 186 acres. These areas were measured and mapped by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) by helicopter surveys and groundtruthing. New control efforts being used by the DCR include a promising wetland herbicide called Habitat which can eliminate Phragmites with a single application.
Recent aerial photography (flown in 2005) shows a wonderful natural spread of eelgrasses from recent restoration sites funded by the Virginia CZM Program within Virginia's Seaside Bays. This spread of eelgrass has been one of the biggest success stories of the Virginia Seaside Heritage Program. In the fall of 2003-2005, over 10 million eelgrass seeds were collected for restoration efforts on the Seaside by VIMS using hand collection techniques and a new mechanical harvester. These seeds were dispersed over 60 acres of Seaside bottom using hand broadcasting, floating bags, and injection methods in areas of South Bay, Hog Island Bay, Cobb Bay, and Spider Crab Bay. Learn more about the Virginia CZM Program's seagrass restoration efforts.
Despite the availability of other conservation tools, the surest way to guarantee long term protection of natural resources and coastal lands is through ownership or perpetual conservation easements. Read more the Virginia CZM Program's land conservation efforts and work to map protected conservation lands. Within this database are the boundaries and attributes for public and certain private lands in Virginia that have potential significance for serving a variety of conservation and recreations roles. Recently, the Virginia CZM Program has been working with TNC, DCR, DGIF, and USFWS to acquire properties on the southern tip of the Eastern Shore which are critically important as migratory songbird stopover habitat.
This data layer represents results of over 800 surveys of 446 colonial water bird colonies conducted by the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) during the breeding season of 2003. The purpose of the study was to estimate populations of all colonial water bird species nesting in the coastal plain. This study is repeated every ten years. Information compiled is intended to (1) be used in the environmental review process, (2) provide information for assessing log-term population trends, and (3) be used in the formulation of management recommendations. Read more about how island habitats play a critical role in the life cycle of beach nesting birds.
Note the arrow in the photo illustrating how camouflaged eggs can be on the beach. It would be very easy to miss and accidentally tread upon these eggs, just one of the reasons visitors to the Seaside need to remain out of these nesting areas.
The data is this layer represents a study by the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) to assess shorebird numbers within the lagoon and barrier island system within Northampton County during 1994 to 1996. Shorebirds are among the most migratory groups of animals known to science. Some shorebird species may spend as long as two-thirds of their annual cycle in migration and may travel 30,000 kilometers per year. The barrier island system along Virginia's Eastern Shore supports significant numbers of migrant shorebirds and is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve with international status (i.e. host to >100,000 shorebirds). Many of the areas favored by foraging shorebirds are also favored for the commercial aquaculture of clams. The Virginia CZM Program funded studies by VIMS and CCB to identify core areas of migrant shorebird activity and assess potential conflicts between clam aquaculture and migrant shore birds to help guide policy revision of aquaculture leasing criteria.
Light Symbol from 1:2400 Topographic Maps.
This symbol is NOT MEANT TO BE USED AS AN AID IN NAVIGATION. It represents a structural feature, e.g. a lighted channel marker or buoy. USGS topographic maps indicate the site of these features with a light symbol. Always follow the route descriptions provided in the Virginia Seaside Water Trail on-line guide and always consult with a local guide before paddling new or unknown routes.