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Waterfront Development and Potential Impacts to Aquatic Habitat - A Planning Tool for Evaluating Resource Sensitivity

Community development along the waterfront challenges managers each day to balance expansion and economic growth with preservation of aquatic resources. There are few guidance tools available to managers to improve how decisions are made. This is especially true in communities experiencing development pressure. This project begins to address this issue with the development of a protocol that considers specific criteria in a waterfront landscape that collectively appraise the potential risk of development to sensitive aquatic resources. The protocol evaluates conditions on the landscape based on three major categories: existing land use, impacts to sensitive habitat, and potential impacts to water quality. A GIS-based model implements the protocol and ranks criteria based on a designated set of rules and conditions. The ranking system assigns points based on presence or absence within an analytical unit measured 600 meters longshore, 90 meters inland, and up to 200 meters seaward of the shoreline, depending on creek width. A site is evaluated for each of the three major categories. Within each category, several criteria are mapped independently and ranked. The model output classifies shoreline segments as low, moderate, or high potential for impact to aquatic health based on the cumulative scores. While limited to available GIS data, the model in its development seeks surrogate data to substitute for data not available. As written, the model can be adapted as new digital data come online. Recommendations for future data inclusion are presented.Greenvale Creek in Lancaster County, Virginia was modeled to test the protocol. A series of maps and tables illustrate conditional impacts along 11 segments. The results are included in the final report. This project was guided by a technical advisory team composed of VIMS scientists. A steering committee comprised of planners, regulators, environmental managers represented the end user community and provided input to the model development.

Web Site Description: The following information is, or will be available at this site: documentation related to this protocol and the model run. Metadata and shapefiles from the pilot run will also be available. When downloading data from this site, users agree to all conditions outlined in the disclaimer below.


These data and this protocol are a product of the Comprehensive Coastal Inventory Program, Center for Coastal Resources Management, Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

The Center for Coastal Resources Management (CCRM) provides this information and sample data with the understanding that it is not guaranteed to be correct or complete, and conclusions drawn from the data set are the sole responsibility of the user. Every attempt has been made to ensure that these data and the documentation are reliable and accurate. Neither CCI, CCRM, nor the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) assume liability for any damages caused by inaccuracies in the data or documentation, or as a result of failure of the data to perform in a particular manner. CCRM and VIMS make no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness, or utility of this information, nor does the fact of distribution constitute a warranty.Individuals who download these data agree to the following, and understand the limitations defined:

  • Integration of these data into other products requires proper citation. Proper citation for this dataset is: "Berman, M., Rudnicky, T., Mason, P., Hershner, C., and Barnard, T., 2003, Waterfront Development and Potential Impacts to Aquatic Habitat A Planning Tool for Evaluating Resource Sensitivity, Comprehensive Coastal Inventory Program, Center for Coastal Resources Management, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, Virginia, 23062." Use of these data in map publications, either digital or hardcopy, requires proper citation, and inclusion of the CCRM logo.

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  • CCRM is not responsible for misuse of these data. CCRM does not oversee or assume responsibility for alterations to this product by users. CCRM may not address specific questions from users who received the data through another party. Distribution of these data is not restricted. CCRM, however, recommends metadata file(s) always remain with the data.

  • CCRM encourages noticeable errors be reported to CCRM contact person identified in the metadata file.

Acknowledgments: The principal investigator would like to thank Tamia Rudnicky for model development, and Dave Weiss for development and maintenance of the website for this project. The contributions made by members of the steering committee were invaluable to the project development. This project was funded by the Virginia Coastal Program at the Department of Environmental Quality, Grant Number NA07OZ0136-01 of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended.

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