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.
Download the Green Sea Blueway and Greenway Management Plan presentation.
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 this map. 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.
How You Can Help
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
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.
Plan Core Components and Goals (an overview of how we plan to
achieve our vision)
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.
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
Promotion (Branding, Marketing and Ecotourism)
Goal 4. Work with stakeholders to develop an integrated and
multifaceted promotion program for the Green Sea area.
Natural Resources Management (Water, Land, Plants and
Goal 5. Preserve,
protect, conserve and sustainably manage natural resources in the Green Sea
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
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.
Facilities Development and Management (Recreation, Security
Goal 8. Expand and
sustainably maintain an integrated system of recreation facilities and support
amenities that accommodate a variety of user needs and interests.