Northam secures partnership for protection of Virginia coastal resources
Governor Ralph Northam announced the Commonwealth of Virginia sought and received authorization from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to continue the Commonwealth’s partnership with the agency through the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program in perpetuity.
Through a “transmittal letter,” Governor Northam replaces the need for Executive Orders that each new governor would have to sign to continue this federal-state partnership.
“I am pleased that we will be able to establish the responsible management of our coastal resources as a permanent fixture of Virginia public policy,” said Governor Northam. “This, however, is just a first step of many that my administration will take in the years ahead to support our coastal communities as they adapt to a changing climate.”
“The Virginia CZM Program has a long list of accomplishments, including restoring eelgrass on the seaside of the Eastern Shore, enhancing oyster populations, improving protection of beaches and dunes, and increasing opportunities for ecotourism,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “We will always need to protect Virginia’s coastal environments, and Governor Northam’s action today ensures that this key program will always be around to help.”
The program was federally approved in 1986 as part of a national coastal zone management program, a voluntary partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Ocean Service Office for Coastal Management and U.S. coastal states and territories authorized by the federal Coastal Zone Management Act.
To manage Virginia’s coastal resources, the program relies on a network of state agencies and local governments to administer the enforceable laws and regulations that protect the wetlands, dunes, subaqueous lands, fisheries, and air and water quality within the Virginia “Coastal Zone.”
“For over 30 years, this important program has focused on Virginia’s coastal zone in innovative and resourceful ways, always with the goal of preserving the Commonwealth’s abundant coastal resources even as Virginia’s population continues to grow,” said Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) David Paylor.
The DEQ is the lead coordinating agency of the network and also houses the Virginia CZM Program office in Richmond. The Virginia CZM Program office at DEQ also administers the program’s annual grant award from the NOAA National Ocean Service’s Office for Coastal Management, which is distributed as annual grant awards to the network’s state agencies and coastal planning district commissions.
Since 1986, Virginia has received over $79 million in federal Coastal Zone Management Act funding, matched by over $66 million in state and local funds, to implement its Coastal Zone Management Program. Virginia is awarded funds based on the size of its coastal population and the length of its tidal shoreline, and about $3 million annually.
The transmittal letter from Governor Northam to NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management establishing the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program in perpetuity can be found here.