Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan

Advisory Group – Local Government and Traditional Uses/Habitat Work Groups

August 20, 2002


- Topics -

1.      Welcome


2.      Dinner


3.      DCR Chesapeake Bay Watershed Grants


4.      EPA Watershed Initiative


5.      Story of the Dragon Run: Its History, Its People, Its Culture


6.      Possible Action Plans


7.      Adjourn






David Fuss welcomed everyone and invited all participants to partake of a catered dinner by David’s Last Chance. Those in attendance were: Robert Gibson, Frank Herrin (King and Queen); Mike Anderberg (Friends of Dragon Run); Anne Ducey-Ortiz, Rick Allen (Gloucester); Prue Davis, Dorothy Miller (Essex); Andy Lacatell (The Nature Conservancy); Hoyt Wheeland (VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation); David Milby (VA Dept. of Forestry); Rebecca Wilson (Division of Natural Heritage – DCR); David Fuss, Lewis Lawrence (MPPDC)


Status of the Dragon Run


While participants were eating, David told the group that the Memorandum of Agreement to participate in the SAMP had passed the MPPDC and Essex County. It will soon be considered by King and Queen, Middlesex, and Gloucester Counties. David also shared the news that the Dragon Run is now listed on the VA Dept. of Environmental Quality’s Impaired Waters [303(d)] list for pH, fecal coliform, 2 fish tissue samples of mercury, and 1 fish tissue sample for lead. DEQ and other experts believe that the impairment is due to natural causes.


DCR’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Office Grant Program


Following consultation with Andy Lacatell of The Nature Conservancy, David proposes to submit a grant proposal to the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Office. The proposed project will document the effectiveness of local land use policies within the Dragon Run Watershed in achieving commitments in the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement (C2K) and incorporate improvements to those policies into a locally supported watershed management plan. Specifically, the project will contribute to the development of the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission’s Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan project by: 1) filling data gaps in a comprehensive environmental inventory; 2) evaluating the consistency, enforceability and effectiveness of land use policies of the four counties within the watershed; and 3) disseminating this information to local decision-makers and landowners. The group felt that submitting a proposal was a good idea. David indicated that the Steering Committee would consider it on August 21.


EPA Watershed Initiative


Andy Lacatell of The Nature Conservancy informed the group that TNC would be lobbying the Warner administration to select the Dragon Run as one of its nominations for the U.S. EPA’s Watershed Initiative. This new funding program will fund 20 watersheds with $21 million over 2-3 years. The focus is on watersheds where active watershed management and planning are occurring. The funding might be used for environmental inventory work, purchase of conservation easements, and related activities. David sought guidance on this issue from the group, in light of past efforts to designate the Dragon Run as a Scenic River. The group was generally supportive of the idea, but felt that the idea needed to be presented properly and consider how suspicious landowners will react. David indicated that the Steering Committee would consider it on August 21.


Story of the Dragon Run


Andy Lacatell of The Nature Conservancy suggested to David the idea of a project called “The Story of the Dragon Run.” This project would be similar in nature to a project done on the Eastern Shore of Virginia by the Edgewise partnership between William and Mary, Virginia Tech, and The Nature Conservancy. The idea is to document the people, the history, and the culture of the region is a succinct ~20-page report to distribute to residents of the watershed. It might include library and museum records, county records, and personal interviews with residents. The project would be done by students and would not cost very much to produce and distribute. David asked the group for guidance on this topic. The group thought that this project was consistent with the goals of the SAMP and might help to bring more people to the table to discuss SAMP issues. Furthermore, county museums are a great source of information, stories of family history would be interesting, and large land grants could be followed through county deed books to see how land was developed over time. The report’s distribution should be limited and not widespread outside of the localities.


Possible Action Plans


The discussion now shifted to developing possible action plans to achieve the goals and objectives of the SAMP project. An idea was proposed to make presentations/updates to Boards of Supervisors/Planning Commissions about Dragon Run/SAMP issues to get them in “the swing of things.” For example, it was noted that in Middlesex, the Board’s collective actions do not represent the Supervisors’ individual beliefs or the county comprehensive plan. The hope is to open their minds to other options, such as other tools besides zoning for accomplishing protection of forest and agricultural land.


Following up on this idea, it was noted that local governments can influence how private, state, and federal programs are implemented locally. If Boards of Supervisors were educated about these programs, then they could shape and direct the way that they play out at the local level. The following ideas could be communicated to the Boards:

·         Identify tools and programs that can fund those tools

·         Awareness of activities that will affect local government operations in the future (e.g. Friends of Dragon Run, The Nature Conservancy, Farm Bill, etc.)

·         Envision specific, rather than general, ideas in the comp plans

·         Encourage landowners to work with non-profits to meet conservation goals

·         Encourage more interaction between localities and PDC’s during comp plan updates because consultants do not always get a lot of community involvement

·         Opportunity to bring joint perspective to Boards/Planning Commissions about thinking of the Dragon Run as a watershed


Other ideas about presentations surfaced:

·         Some vehicles for information exchange exist now (e.g. Local Planners and PDC meetings)

·         When addressing Boards/Planning Commissions, one will need to think about whether the tools are useful county-wide or just in the Dragon Run Watershed

·         Maybe it would be best to just do presentations to the Dragon Run Steering Committee and the PDC to exchange relevant information, since these entities are tuned into these issues already

·         Topic presentations could be given to Boards. An example is open space preservation (e.g. what’s happening with open space preservation in the county; opportunities even if Boards cannot contribute money)

·         Resolutions or Letters of Support would be more forthcoming with these types of topic/informational presentations

·         Steering Committee reps could present quarterly updates to Boards, which might be best delivered by landowner members 




The meeting was adjourned.