Lynnhaven River Basin Ecosystem Restoration Project

Project Manager

Heather Lockwood
Project Manager | Biologist 
Programs & Civil Works Branch
Norfolk District, USACE
803 Front Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-201-7271
email

Public Meeting

NEPA Scoping Meeting, May 23

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District (USACE) and the City of Virginia Beach held a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Scoping Meeting in Virginia Beach on May 23, 2024.

During the meeting, we announced the re-evaluation of Phase 3 of the Lynnhaven River Basin Ecosystem Restoration Project, which converses authorized under Section 7002 of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014.

The City of Virginia Beach is the non-federal sponsor for this project which aims to restore habitat in 38 acres of wetlands, 94 acres of submerged aquatic vegetation, and 31 acres of reef habitat in order to increase the water quality and wildlife biodiversity of the Lynnhaven River Basin.

This public meeting was recorded and can be viewed here:

 

Written comments may be sent by email to gina.m.dotolo@usace.army.mil, or by mail addressed to:
Ms. Gina Dotolo
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District
803 Front St.
Norfolk, VA 23510

USACE must receive all public comments pertaining to this project no later than June 11, 2024 in order for them to receive consideration during the current re-evaluation.

Project Details and Background

For decades, the Lynnhaven River has been impaired to a point in which oysters and other fish caught in the estuary could not be consumed; however, through the efforts of the City of Virginia Beach, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and groups like Lynnhaven River NOW, the river has rebounded. This project will continue to enhance the health of the river for all people who utilize it.

The removal of invasive species will bring back quality wetlands that help to clean and store runoff prior to it entering the waterway. These wetlands will add to the environmental health of the Lynnhaven River.

The creation of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) benefits the river system with restored habitat for fish and other marine life, as well as improves the overall water quality for all users of the waterway.

Creation of additional hard reef habitat in the river will provide attachment surfaces for sessile organisms, cover and shelter for many species of fish and other motile invertebrates (crab & shrimp), and attachment surfaces for benthic egg masses produced by a wide variety of species in the Chesapeake Bay. The filter feeding organisms that settle on the reef habitat will also provide many water quality benefits to the estuary.

USACE began planning in 2005 and presented the project to the City of Virginia Beach in 2009. A feasibility report and environmental assessment were completed in 2013. In 2016, leases were obtained by the city as potential sites were identified. Public meetings were conducted in 2018 and 2019.

SCOPE
The Lynnhaven River Basin Ecosystem Restoration Project, through multiple phases, is slated to restore habitat in 38 acres of wetlands; 94 acres of submerged aquatic vegetation critical to the ecosystem; and 31 acres of reef habitat which is home to many fish and benthic species in the largest estuary in the City of Virginia Beach.

AUTHORIZATION
The project was originally authorized for study through a resolution by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the U.S. House of Representatives, Docket 2558, adopted May 6, 1998. A comprehensive feasibility study conducted from September 2004 to 2013 included scientific research, as well as public and stakeholder input, found the project feasible. The final report to Congress is available at, https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CDOC-113hdoc176/pdf/CDOC-113hdoc176.pdf

As laid out in Executive Order 13508 -- Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration, and again in the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Agreement , the Lynnhaven River is a “Priority” tributary and has been identified as one of 10 tributaries to be restored by the year 2025.

GOALS This project addresses the agreement’s five critical goals:

• Abundant Life - Ensure sustainable populations of finfish, shellfish, and other living creatures; the restoration of habitats where those creatures live and feed; and a balanced ecosystem network.
• Clean Water - Reduce nutrient pollution to achieve water quality that can support aquatic life; free the bay and its tributaries from the effects of toxic pollution, not just nutrients; and sustain healthy sub-watersheds.
• Climate Change - Increase the resiliency of the bay and tributaries to withstand changing weather and the impacts it will bring.
• Conserved Lands - Conserve working forests, farms, maritime communities and lands with cultural and other values.
• Engaged Communities - Increase public involvement in bay stewardship; expand public access to the bay; enable environmentally literate students to graduate from high school.

 

Project Hightlights