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Living Shorelines Legislative Initiative Items within Virginia Senate Bill 964

living shoreline forest slopeLiving Shoreline Treatments address erosion in lower energy situations by providing long-term protection, restoration or enhancement of vegetated shoreline habitats through strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill and other structural or organic materials. Living Shorelines do not include structures that sever the natural processes & connections between uplands and aquatic areas.

The Virginia legislative definition of living shoreline: "Living shoreline" means a shoreline management practice that provides erosion control and water quality benefits; protects, restores or enhances natural shoreline habitat; and maintains coastal processes through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill, and other structural and organic materials.

Study Required by Senate Joint Resolution 35 (2010)

natural meanderVIMS directed to conduct a study on Virginia shoreline management.

In conducting its study, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science shall (i) review tidal shoreline management in the Commonwealth and similarly situated states; (ii) identify potential changes to the regulatory structure of tidal shoreline management to reduce the cost and time required to issue a permit; (iii) identify regulatory innovations that would increase adoption of living shorelines among shoreline landowners; and (iv) make specific recommendations to achieve the sustained protection of tidal shoreline resources.

See Report on SJ35 at http://www.ccrm.vims.edu/publications/SJ35TidalShorelineRec.pdf

Recommendations for Sustained Protection of Tidal Shoreline Resources in Virginia

1. Virginia should develop integrated guidance for management of tidal shoreline systems. The guidance should identify preferred shoreline management approaches for the shoreline types found in Virginia. The intent should be for all regulatory authorities with purview over activities along Virginia's tidal shorelines to use the guidance to achieve greater collective efficiency and effectiveness in management of the Commonwealth's resources. Development of the guidance should be a cooperative effort involving the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

2. Virginia should conduct a study to identify and assess any potential regulatory issues associated with development and implementation of integrated guidance for tidal shoreline management to be conducted.

3. Virginia should officially identify a preference for living shoreline designs as a management strategy for tidal shoreline systems. The policy could be articulated in the form of legislation, executive order, or regulation. However, a regulatory preference promulgated by one agency does not guarantee the same for other management entities. This might, therefore, fall short of establishing a unifying focus for regulatory programs that could improve efficiency and effectiveness of the Commonwealth's shoreline management efforts. For this reason, a legislative or executive action would be preferable.

4. Virginia should develop and implement a general permit for living shorelines. The permit development process should involve the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, with technical assistance from other shoreline management entities as necessary. The process should be coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to avoid conflicts with their permitting requirements.

5. Virginia should advance the efforts currently underway at VIMS to develop and promulgate comprehensive coastal resource management plans for all Tidewater localities. The plans should be specifically designed to support integrated management of current tidal shoreline resources, and should also provide information to support local planning efforts to adapt to changing conditions in the coastal zone, including sea level rise.

6. Virginia should promote the education of both public officials and the general public regarding the need for integrated shoreline management. Success in managing the risks to both human and natural resources will require both regulators and the regulated community to understand the issues and adjust expectations for what is possible and what is appropriate along Virginia's shorelines.

In 2011, SB964 established living shorelines as the preferred approach to shoreline erosion protection. The legislation also mandates the development of a living shorelines general permit and the development of integrated guidance to direct shoreline management.

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