Virginia Beach is partnering with its neighboring communities of Chesapeake and Currituck County to develop a regional sustainable management and development strategy for protecting shared resources in an area known as the Green Sea, which extends into all three communities.
First Draft Plan Now Available for Comment
The First Draft Plan is now available for review. Comments may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org through October 6, 2014.
What is the Green Sea?
The name Green Sea dates back to 1728 when Colonel William Byrd was first surveying the boundary between the Virginia and North Carolina Colonies shown in the map below. He was observing the water and wildlife to evaluate the need and ability to dredge the waterways for more shipping access that eventually led to the construction of the Dismal Swamp Canal. As his work progressed he noticed the large area of jungle-like vegetation with green cane which grew up to nearly 15 feet tall. He thought that the green cane swaying in the wind closely resembled ocean waves, and so he named this area the “Green Sea”. Green Sea was chosen as the name for the area and the Plan because its historical significance links the three communities - Chesapeake, Currituck and Virginia Beach - to their natural lineage that dates back prior to when early colonists first stepped foot in the area.
What is a Blueway?
A blueway is a waterway designated for its recreational, environmental and economic assets. It is utilized as a water trail or path and developed with launch points, camping locations and points of interest for canoeists, paddle boarders and kayakers. The Green Sea area is home to scenic views, unique wildlife, trails and miles of calm water making it the ideal location for a blueway system for visitors to enjoy. Many of the Green Sea area views can only be seen using a small watercraft because much of the land is low lying wetland and hard to walk on. There are several existing water access sites for visitors to launch from and begin to explore the watery ecosystems that make up so much of the Green Sea area.
What is a Greenway?
A greenway is an area of land that is designated for its recreational, environmental and economic assets. It is utilized as a vegetated corridor linking unique natural resources and developed with vistas, unique habitat areas, camping and picnicking locations and points of interest primarily for pedestrian or non-motorized recreational use. There are several open space lands in the Green Sea that have a lot of potential for low impact recreational opportunities for locals, visitors and businesses. Connecting these lands in the Green Sea using a greenway will encourage exploration and appreciation for natural environments while, at the same time, providing multiple recreational and economic benefits for visitors, residents and businesses. A greenway in the Green Sea will help cultivate stewardship though human experiences with nature and will, in turn, benefit the ecological health of the Green Sea area.
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Background and why this plan is important...
The Green Sea Study Area is part of the Intracoastal Waterway System which covers a distance of roughly 30 miles from the point where Tulls Bay, the Northwest River and Currituck Sound join together in North Carolina line to the locks at Great Bridge in Chesapeake, where the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal links to the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River. Joining these areas together is the North Landing River and a myriad of both named and unnamed creeks, coves and smaller rivers.
This area has a vast history dating back to pre-colonial times when Algonquin speaking Native American tribes were the first to use the land for agriculture. The wetlands provided good nutrients for farmland then and still today. Growth and settlement in the Green Sea area has be closely tied with the shipping industry. The Dismal Swamp Canal and the Albemarle Chesapeake Canal offered several connections for shipping to Currituck and North Carolina. Today, areas in the Green Sea are still used for shipping, boating, fishing, non-motorized boating and other forms of recreation.
The Green Sea natural history is equally as plush its cultural history. The Green Sea is home to several unique wetland communities that support a variety of rare plant and animal species that include several Natural Heritage resource plant and animal communities. Many of the species are rare in Virginia and some are rare globally making the lands in the Green Sea extremely valuable ecologically. State agencies and non-profit organizations like the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and The Nature Conservancy have acquired and protected lands in the Green Sea because of the ecological significance of these areas. In Virginia Beach, nearly one sixth of land acres in the Green Sea are already protected.
What the plan aims to achieve...
This plan provides recommendations to successfully and sustainably manage the recreational and environmental resources in the Green Sea by cultivating stewardship, providing economic incentives for residents and businesses, and protecting the Green Sea area resources for the long term. This plan will provide guidance and a shared understanding among private and public landowners on the ecological and human benefits of the corridor. Mitigation strategies would also be established to help minimize those elements that present compromises within the blueway and greenway. Management of the Green Sea to maximize these benefits will create a more livable environment not only for those who use it but also for the entire community today and in the future.
The success of this plan will rely on clear communication and organization between stakeholders and the three localities - City of Chesapeake, Currituck County, and the City of Virginia Beach - to create Green Sea Partnership that will work as a liaison for the Green Sea area. The Partnership will work closely with stakeholders to manage and utilize the Green Sea area resources and facilities. With help from stakeholder groups we identified six key components that guide this plan:
- Land Protection
- Natural Resource Management
- Facilities Development
These components are outlined in the plan and are the basis for a successful management strategy. Each component is accompanied series of goals, objective and actions that provide the partnership with an idea about the best management steps to take.
Plan Mission (what we strive to do, where we will do it and who we will do it for)
To conserve, protect and manage open space lands and waterways in the Green Sea area for the enjoyment of future generations.
Plan Vision (where we see ourselves in the future)
The Green Sea Blueway and Greenway Management Plan provides a proposed framework to manage a system of natural open space areas, sustainable uses, and facilities within the Green Sea area. This plan seeks to cultivate long-term stewardship of natural and cultural resources through education, protect ecological integrity, and provide opportunities for public enjoyment through low impact outdoor recreation. This plan outlines a process for developing a partnership group that coordinates promotion and sustainable management of natural and recreational resources of the Green Sea area.
Six Plan Core Components and Goals (an overview of how we plan to achieve our vision)
1. Administration (Governance, Cooperation and Finance)
Goal 1. Establish a unified management strategy that organizes property owners, stakeholders and government agencies to consolidate expertise and resources to ensure the long term conservation, protection, promotion and management of natural resources and recreational uses.
Goal 2. Develop a comprehensive fundraising strategy that enables the partnership to raise and leverage funds sustainably.
2. Land Protection (Conservation Easements, Agriculture Preservation and Land Acquisition)
Goal 3. Establish a strategy for protection of lands in the Green Sea area for conservation, ecosystem function and recreational purposes, utilizing acquisition and easement programs.
3. Promotion (Branding, Marketing and Ecotourism)
Goal 4. Work with stakeholders to develop an integrated and multifaceted promotion program for the Green Sea area.
4. Natural Resources Management (Water, Land, Plants and Wildlife)
Goal 5. Preserve, protect, conserve and sustainably manage natural resources in the Green Sea area.
5. Learning (Education, Outreach and Research)
Goal 6. Cultivate stewardship and appreciation of the Green Sea area by informing and educating the public on its historic, cultural and natural resources, scenic beauty and recreational opportunities.
Goal 7. Collaborate and work with local universities, research organizations and public agencies to establish programs that focus on wetlands, sea level rise, unique ecosystems and other related issues.
6. Facilities Development and Management (Recreation, Security and Maintenance)
Goal 8. Expand and sustainably maintain an integrated system of recreation facilities and support amenities that accommodate a variety of user needs and interests.