Virginia's Coastal Zone Management Program

The Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP) is a network of Virginia state agencies and local governments, established in 1986 through an Executive Order, which administers enforceable laws, regulations and policies that protect Virginia’s coastal resources and foster sustainable development. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) serves as the lead agency for the “networked program,” that manages the state’s coastal resources by administering the laws and regulations that protect wetlands, dunes, subaqueous lands, fisheries, and air and water quality - within the Virginia coastal zone. 

The CZMP is taking steps to help prepare for the predicted effects of climate change, especially sea-level rise on Virginia's coastal resources. With CZM coordination and funding support, three of Virginia’s coastal planning district commissions are assessing and mapping the potential impacts of sea-level rise and severe storm events to both developed and natural areas. The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (PDC), Middle Peninsula PDC and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission are now moving toward policy development that will establish a framework for local response to these issues.

The Virginia CZMP has been particularly active in promoting the "Living Shorelines" initiative, an effort aimed at decreasing shoreline hardening so as to allow wetlands to naturally migrate inland as sea levels rise. The initiative promotes the use of nonstructural or "hybrid" approaches to shoreline stabilization and can preserve, and in some cases expand, wetlands and natural shoreline features in the face of rising sea levels.

The CZMP’s sustained leadership of the Virginia Oyster Heritage Program, as part of the National Coastal Zone Management Program, helped to create a successful fishery restoration and management system. The payoff for this investment over the past 10 years has been substantial, leading to a tenfold increase in bushels of oysters harvested, demonstrating how coordination and comprehensive coastal planning can lead to significant economic benefits. 

The Virginia CZMP office at DEQ also administers the program’s annual grant award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office of Ocean and Coastal Resources Management. Since 1986, Virginia has received over $61 million in federal Coastal Zone Management Act funding, matched by over $51 million in state and local funds, to implement its Coastal Zone Management Program. As a “maximum-funded state” Virginia receives about $2.5 million annually.

The Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program was re-established under Governor Robert F. McDonnell’s Executive Order No. 18 (2010) “Continuation of the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program,” and is in effect until June 30, 2014. 


Publication Date: June 2010

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