What Is "Coastal GEMS"?
A gateway to Virginia’s coastal resource data and maps; coastal laws and policies; facts on coastal resource values; and direct links to collaborating agencies responsible for current data.
A growing inventory of water and land based natural resources, conservation planning tools, and planning examples that can help us to protect Virginia’s coastal ecosystems.
A tool to promote community involvement and environmental education.
Download Coastal GEMS Brochure (pdf)
How Coastal GEMS came to be…
During a Virginia CZM Program workshop in 2001, state and local partners expressed the need for a “vision” of Virginia’s Coastal Zone or a comprehensive inventory of Virginia’s coastal resources. Many questions were raised. What is the current status of Virginia’s coastal resources? How can these coastal resources be managed in a sustainable fashion in light of increasing development pressures?
As a first step in achieving this “vision,” our partners agreed it was important to identify and map the best remaining blue (water-based) and green (land-based) natural resources within Virginia’s coastal zone. We began collecting spatial data and creating management tools to be included in Coastal GEMS.
The idea grew into the concept of providing a gateway, or starting point, for accessing more comprehensive coastal resource information from all of our natural resource agencies and coastal partners for consideration in planning efforts and management decisions.
In addition to funding data layer development by CZM partners, we contracted with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Environmental Studies and WorldView Solutions, Inc. to create the Coastal GEMS application. Additional data layers will be incorporated into Coastal GEMS as agencies continue to develop data and make it available for inclusion.
Who Is Using Coastal GEMS?
Virginia Coastal GEMS fosters stronger understanding of how activities on the land and in the water affect each other. Virginia Coastal GEMS is helping create a stronger link between local land use plans and state and federal water use policies.
Coastal GEMS is being used by:
• Local and regional planning agencies to better manage growth by determining the most suitable areas for conservation and development.
• State and federal agencies to better manage projects such as roads and major facilities, habitat restoration, and public access plans. They also use Coastal GEMS as a starting point for the environmental review process in order to quickly access agency data.
• Academic institutions to educate students about coastal resource use and values and to provide a basis of information for classroom projects and/or research.
• Private citizens, advocacy groups, and businesses to formulate their positions on the potential impacts of projects on coastal resources.
• General public to learn more about Virginia’s coastal resources.
What kind of information does Coastal GEMS provide?
Coastal GEMS provides extensive information on coastal resources in Virginia in the form of detailed descriptions and interactive spatial (mappable) data.
Coastal GEMS currently includes the following data layers:
- Fisheries Management Areas
- Baylor Grounds (Public Oyster Grounds)
- Private Oyster Leases
- State Constructed Oyster Reefs
- Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture Sites
- Oyster Gardening Sites
- Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV)
- Seaside SAV Planting Sites
- Anadromous Fish Use Areas
- Threatened & Endangered Species Waters
- Seaside Oyster Density
- Healthy Streams
Beaches Above High Water
- Chesapeake Bay Dunes
- Wetlands (Tidal & Non-Tidal)
- Restored Riparian Buffer Sites
- Public Access Lands
- Forest Cover
- Barrier Island Ownership
- VDGIF Boat Ramps
- Scenic Rivers
- Birding & Wildlife Trail Sites and Loops
- Seaside Eastern Shore Water Trail
- Public Access Sites
Conservation Planning Tools
- Clam/Oyster Aquaculture Suitability Models
- Accomack County Buffer Classification
- Invasive Reed (Phragmites)
- Historic & Cultural Value Model
- Predicted Growth Model
- Ecological Cores & Landscape Corridors
- Marina Siting Suitability Model
- Impediments to Fish Movement
- Impaired Waters
- Biotic Stream Assessment (INSTAR) Locations
- Recreational Value Model
- Watershed Integrity Model
- Agricultural Value Model
- Forest Economics Model
- Tidal Flushing Rates
- Clam/Oyster Aquaculture Vulnerability Models
- Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity
- Condemned Shellfish Areas
- Potential Wetland Restoration Sites
Conservation Planning Examples
- Special Area Management Program Boundaries
- Hampton Roads Conservation Corridors
- Coastal Virginia Ecological Value Assessment
- Coastal Avian Protection Zones
For comments or questions concerning this program's web pages, contact Virginia Witmer.
This website is provided by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program through a federal Coastal Zone Management Act grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce.