Northern Virginia Regional Commission
Northern Virginia Conservation Corridor Planning
Project Description as Proposed:
The second year of the Northern Virginia Conservation Corridor Planning project will continue to engage a stakeholder group to work toward the integration of the regional conservation corridor maps into local planning initiatives.
NVRC will continue to refine the analysis for local level planning efforts and conduct scenario analysis. NVRC and its partners will host a summit to engage a wider audience of residents and other interested parties. The summit will serve as an introduction to green networks and their benefits from an ecologic, economic, and regulatory perspective, as well as provide an opportunity to present the base and asset maps prepared for the region. In a charrette format, participants will have an opportunity to provide comments on the network and support the prioritization of possible conserved lands.
Additionally, working with the Northern Virginia Land Managers group, and as part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (PHNST) gap analysis, NVRC will conduct a pilot study on the applicability of the refined model in identifying new routes in areas that will limit impacts to areas of high ecological integrity and natural assets.
Finally, NVRC will provide the models and data to each locality, and produce local maps per their specifications.
10/1/2010 - 9/30/2011
Final Product Received:
Conservation Corridor Planning in Northern Virginia (pdf)
Project Summary Provided by Grantee:
On average, the Northern Virginia region grows by 35-38,000 new residents per year. This trend is expected to continue through 2020 adding another 300,000 people to the region, which will place increasing pressure to develop the “grey” infrastructure necessary to accommodate this growth. The results of the Conservation Corridors Planning in Northern Virginia project allows the region’s local and regional planners and conservation organizations to work collaboratively to ensure this development can occur in a manner that considers and protects the region’s most valuable natural resource assets.
The Conservation Corridors Planning in Northern Virginia Assessment Report – available for download at: www.novaregion.org/conservation - provides an inventory of the region’s highest quality intact habitats. The Virginia Conservation Lands Needs Assessment and Natural Landscape Assessment, developed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Natural Heritage, was a key model used in evaluating the highest-value natural resource assets in the region. State and local data guided identification of natural, cultural, historical, and recreational assets viewable at a regional scale.
Additionally, the report features assets that cross jurisdictional boundaries and would benefit from collaborative planning opportunities. This resulted in the identification of five priority regional conservation corridors that play a vital role in defining the region’s natural characteristics, providing water quality benefits, supporting cultural heritage and nature-based recreation opportunities, and contributing to the region’s overall quality of life.
To understand the applicability of this information at a smaller-scale, a pilot study was conducted on Mason Neck to identify resources and opportunities for connections between the seven public agencies that own land along this peninsula. This effort revealed that the regional analysis does provide a significant resource for these kinds of planning purposes with the need for much more refined GIS data to actually identify trail and pathway systems.
Throughout this project, NVRC and its partners engaged a multi-disciplinary advisory group of long-range and environmental planners, natural resource managers, ecologists and others from local, regional, state, and federal governments and from conservation organizations across the region. This advisory group, along with input gathered through enlarged participation via a public workshop and direct meeting with the region’s conservation organizations, was integral to the development of conservation strategies for the region, which focus on protecting the highest quality cores and corridors first, then look to enhance, restore, and recreate connections and ecosystem functions to the extent possible.
On February 23, 2012, a presentation on the report was made to the Board members of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, which represent elected officials from across the region. On March 22, 2012, the NVRC adopted the Conservation Corridor Planning in Northern Virginia Assessment Report authorizing staff to move forward on the next steps identified in the document, including the establishment of a stakeholder workgroup to implement the five regional conservation corridors identified in the report. Commissioners discussed the value that the assessment provides in identifying the region’s resources and placed a strong emphasis on the voluntary efforts that residents, businesses, and others may apply to protect, enhance, and restore the region’s assets.
All project materials are available online at www.novaregion.org/conservation. A limited number of hard copies of the Report are available by contacting the Northern Virginia Regional Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-642-0700.
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