Back Bay Watershed

​​​​​​​​The Back Bay watershed covers the southeastern quarter of the City of Virginia Beach, comprising approximately 67,000 acres.

Trees and water 
Photo courtesy of Back Bay Restoration Foundation


Back Bay mapIn Virginia, the watershed boundaries are approximated by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Princess Anne Road on the west, Birdneck Road on​ the north, and the North Carolina state line on the south. The Back Bay watershed encompasses Back Bay, several smaller bodies of water such as Redwing Lake, Black Gut and Lake Tecumseh, and extensive agricultural lands. Back Bay is connected to Currituck​ Sound, which subsequently empties into Albemarle Sound. This much larger body of water mixes with and flows through Croatian Sound, to Pamlico Sound. The entire system is commonly referred to as the Pamlico Estuary, or an estuarine system.​​​​

The Division of Natural Heritage has identified many rare or endangered species or exemplary vegetative communities from the area, making this ecosystem one of the most diverse and extensive in southeastern Virginia.

 ​​​​​​Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge​​
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1938 to provide habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl. The refuge contains more than 9,000 acres situated on and around a thin strip of coastline in the southeastern corner of the City of Virginia Beach. ​Because of its unique geographic location biodiversity is high. 

EgretToday more than 259 species of birds have been observed at Back Bay Refuge. Approximately 10,000 snow geese and a large variety of ducks and other waterfowl visit Back Bay refuge during the peak of fall migration, more specifica​​​​​​lly in December.  

Migrating songbirds and shorebirds arrive at the refuge each spring and fall. Habitats are also used by a wide variety​ of other wildlife, including  threatened and endangered species such as the loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers, peregrine falcons, and bald eagles. ​​

In conjunction with Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the City of Virginia Beach has been selected by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to receive a $449,000 planning grant. These funds will be used to evaluate alternative solutions and transportation modes to bring visitors to the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, including providing trams from populated areas of the city to the refuge, construction of a shared-use path for biking and walking, development of canoe-kayak facilities and other alternatives.​ In addition, the City of Virginia Beach Department of Parks and Recreation​ will manage the grant. Read more via the press release.

View pictures of Back Bay.