[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Dragon Run Steering Committee 2003 Meeting Minutes

See meeting minutes from: 2009 |2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999| 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | Member Attendance

Dragon Run Steering Committee
Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission
Fall Quarterly Meeting
November 12, 2003


1. Welcome
2. Final Watershed Management Plan
3. Brown Tract
4. Landfill Update
5. Grant Update
6. Other Business
7. Adjourn

Note: The Education Review Team will meet briefly after the meeting.


Steering Committee: Prue Davis, Dorothy Miller (Essex); Keith Haden, Russell Williams (King and Queen); Robert Major, Jack Miller (Middlesex); Rick Allen, Jerry Horner (Gloucester)

Others: Julie Bixby (VA Coastal Program); Robert Gibson, Rachel Williams (King and Queen); Lorna Anderberg, Mike Anderberg, Teta Kain, Mary Ann Krenzke (Friends of Dragon Run); Willy Reay (CBNERR/VIMS); Nancy Miller (CBLAD); Pat Tyrrell (Tidewater RC&D); Anne Ducey-Ortiz, Robert Hudgins (Gloucester); David Milby (Dept. of Forestry); David Fuss, Lewie Lawrence (MPPDC)


Chair Davis called the meeting to order and began introductions.

Final Watershed Management Plan

David Fuss presented an overview of the Dragon Run Watershed Management Plan as recommended by the Dragon Run SAMP Advisory Group. Discussion focused on how monitoring would be funded and concern about recent findings of high mercury levels in fish tissue in the Dragon Run. Suggestions were made to split the document into Part I and Part II, to put tabs between the sections, and to eliminate Appendix E and F.

A motion was made to approve the Dragon Run Watershed Management Plan and to recommend it to the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission and the Counties of Essex, Gloucester, King and Queen, and Middlesex. Dorothy Miller seconded. The Steering Committee unanimously approved the motion. It was noted that the MPPDC would see a presentation about the plan at their November meeting and would likely take action on it in January or February. It was suggested that the counties would be able to best consider it after the budget sessions, which would likely mean in July or later.

Brown Tract

Lewie Lawrence provided information and a handout about the land acquisition at the Brown Tract in Essex and King and Queen County. The Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority will use $365,000 in match-free funds from a grant through the Virginia Coastal Program to purchase 274 acres of timberland spanning the Dragon Run near Center Cross on Rt. 604 (Byrd’s Bridge Rd). Ultimately, about half of the tract will be deeded to the Dept. of Forestry for forest management. The tract is currently owned by John Hancock Life Insurance Co. and is under contract with The Nature Conservancy. The tract was described and the purchase timeline and process were explained. Mr. Lawrence also explained that $37,000 in match-free funding was available for site improvements (e.g. school bus parking, boardwalk refurbishment) from the BFI Landfill Dragon Run Protection Fund that mitigates damage from the development of the landfill in King and Queen County. A management plan for the site will be developed by a team of stakeholders following settlement.

Mr. Lawrence noted that there was considerable local support for this purchase, since the Public Access Authority would retain local control. This tract is the exact parcel that sparked controversy among Steering Committee members when The Nature Conservancy planned to retain ownership of the property. The neighbors could not leverage the funds to purchase the tract, so local government ownership is the best possible scenario.

There was discussion of hunting on the site. The site is currently leased to a hunt club that is not based locally. Mr. Hudgins indicated that allowing public hunting on the site is his “worst nightmare” from a landowner perspective. Concerns were expressed over how to manage public hunting and access on the site and fear of government control of the land was a factor. It was noted that the land was for sale and would have been sold to someone.

Mr. Haden inquired about how much funding was originally designated for the BFI Landfill Dragon Run Protection Fund. Mr. Lawrence indicated that he would try to find out.

Landfill Update

David Fuss provided a briefing of phone conversations with various officials concerning odor and water quality concerns related to the BFI landfill in King and Queen County raised by Mr. and Mrs. Williams. David spoke with three staff at the Dept. of Environmental Quality, one at Three Rivers Health District, and the King and Queen County Administrator. He also visited the site with King and Queen County staff to assess erosion and sediment control problems. There are ongoing concerns about odor, but this is not related to water quality. Odor problems are found in King and Queen, Essex, and Middlesex Counties. David indicated that King and Queen County has stepped up efforts to address problems at the landfill after admitting that they have not done a very good job over the last few years. Steering Committee members wanted to know what citizens could do to improve the situation. David suggested that working with King and Queen County was the best avenue. Comparisons were drawn between the BFI landfill in King and Queen County and the Waste Management landfill in upper Gloucester County.

Grant Update

David provided an update about the current fiscal year grant funding for the Dragon Run SAMP from the Virginia Coastal Program. Educational activities include hiring a contract educator and community watershed festival planner. A review team of Steering Committee members has been formed to assist David in choosing appropriate candidates. The Dept. of Coastal and Ocean Policy at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science is performing a study of sustainable economic development opportunities for resource-based industries within the watershed. Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Environmental Studies will soon complete a final report and database of a fish and macroinvertebrate inventory of the watershed. Finally, the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Natural Heritage has completed the field work for a natural heritage inventory of Dragon Run headwaters and is due to complete the final report by early December.

Other Business

David distributed a copy of the press release for the Dept. of Health’s fish consumption advisory for the Dragon Run/Piankatank River for mercury contamination in fish tissue. This advises the general public to eat no more than two 8-ounce meals of largemouth bass in a one-month period. It advises pregnant women, young children, and nursing mothers to eat no largemouth bass from the Dragon Run or Piankatank River. This health advisory is based on Dept. of Environmental Quality fish tissue samples from 1998, 2000, and 2002.

Senators Allen and Warner announced the availability of $2 million in federal funding for the Dragon Run under the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program. The Virginia Dept. of Forestry will use the funds to purchase fee-simple and conservation easements on working forestland. The Nature Conservancy has vowed to provide the 25% match funds.

John Hancock Life Insurance Co. announced that they are planning to merge with Canadian-based Manulife Corp. This may have implications for John Hancock timber holdings in the Middle Peninsula and Dragon Run watershed. Reportedly, the timber assets of John Hancock were appealing to Manulife. In related news, as of December 31, Resource Management Service, Inc. will no longer manage forest land for John Hancock.

Willy Reay announced that he has secured funding for water quality monitoring work in the Piankatank River and Dragon Run. There will be two sites in the Piankatank and one in the Dragon Run at Rt. 603 that will be sampled every 15 minutes. Dr. Reay also indicated that there would be an effort to perform continuous water quality sampling in some portions of the study area.

Dates for the Steering Committee’s 2004 schedule were offered based on the 2nd Wednesday of every third month. The schedule was approved and will be as follows:

February 11, May 12, August 11, November 10

Meeting times will be at 7:30 PM unless otherwise noted.


Jack Miller motioned to adjourn. Dorothy Miller seconded the motion. Motion carried and meeting adjourned.


David Fuss convened a meeting of the Education Review Team. Dorothy Miller (Essex) and Jerry Horner (Gloucester) were in attendance. David distributed draft announcements for an education consultant and an event planner for the watershed festival. He asked the team to review these drafts and offer comments. He also asked the team to consider whether they should be advertised together or separately. He asked the team what type of qualifications would be desirable, what type of schedule should be pursued for advertising, and where should the announcement be advertised. He also asked the team to consider what days of the week and times of day would be best for meeting. It was decided that the announcements should be advertised in December for 2-3 weeks and the team would meet 1-2 times in January to choose the best candidate. The best qualifications would be someone who is a practitioner and has an education background. This person should be able to inspire his/her audience. The announcement should be advertised widely in newspapers, professional journals, organizations, and universities.

Dragon Run Steering Committee
Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission
Summer Quarterly Meeting
August 12, 2003


1. Welcome
2. Picnic at Mr. Robert Major's home
3. Open Discussion - Forest Legacy funding; TNC as landowner
4. Review/Planning Teams - Education Contract; Watershed Festival
5. Update on Watershed Management Plan and Land Use Policy Audit
6. Ongoing Research Update
7. Invasive Species Update
8. Adjourn

Picnic and Welcome

Following a picnic at Robert and Carolyn Major’s home, the Steering Committee convened its summer quarterly meeting. In attendance were: Robert Major (Middlesex); Prue Davis, Dorothy Miller (Essex); Robert Hudgins (Gloucester); and David Fuss (MPPDC). Chair Davis welcomed everyone and asked David Fuss to proceed with the agenda.

Open Discussion

David started with an open discussion and some announcements. First, Frank Herrin emailed to David that his wife, Elise, has been diagnosed with stage three non-small cell lung cancer and is seeking treatments. Frank asked that everyone keep Elise in their prayers. Next, David distributed a staff activities report for May-July 2003. This is an excerpt of the Staff Activities Report to the Planning District Commission that David thought the Committee might find helpful. It does not take any extra time to prepare. Finally, David provided an update that the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill with $3 million in funding for the Dragon Run through the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy program. This initiative, proposed through the VA Dept. of Forestry, has strong support from Virginia’s Senators. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) recently purchased 452 acres that will serve as half of the $1 million pledged as match by TNC. Other items discussed included: proposed mobile home development near Upright in Essex County on Cheaney’s Bridge Rd; possible development following clear-cutting on Parrish Lumber Co. land near Meggs Bay in Gloucester County; likely purchase of Brown Tract in Essex/King and Queen Counties with VA Coastal Program funding involving VA Dept. of Forestry and the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority. The Nature Conservancy has a contract on the tract now. David explained the nature of Public Access Authority.

Review/Planning Teams

David reminded the Committee that the new grant cycle beginning in October will bring the opportunity to hire a professional educator to educate decision-makers and community leaders about watershed issues important to the Committee. He suggested that the Committee form a team to assist him in reviewing applications in response to a Request for Qualifications that will be advertised in the fall. The Committee agreed that seeking one Committee member from each locality would result in a good review team to assist David. Suggested team members were: Jerry Horner (Gloucester), Dorothy Miller (Essex), Davis Wilson (Middlesex), Frank Herrin (King and Queen), and Kay Bradley (Executive Director of the Northern Neck-Middle Peninsula Public Education Consortium).

David also reminded the Committee that the grant included funding for planning a watershed festival. The festival would be community-based and would be modest in size. Stewardship awards would be given out and displays would be featured, as well as food and drink. David suggested that the Committee meet once or twice with a facilitator to brainstorm about what would be appropriate for such a festival. Then, the Committee might form a planning team to assist a professional event planner. Planning would occur over the winter and into the spring and the festival could be held in late summer or fall of 2004. The Committee agreed that the Chair would call a special meeting to brainstorm with a facilitator, probably in the fall or winter of 2003.

Watershed Management Plan and Land Use Policy Audit

David informed the Committee that Paradigm Design has completed the Land Use Policy Audit and he distributed the final report for the project. He explained that Paradigm Design provided the services that were needed and that he, the Committee, and the SAMP Advisory Group were pleased with their work. He also explained that much of this work would be incorporated into the Watershed Management Plan, which is being finalized. David will try to work with local hunt clubs to announce the elements of the watershed management plan at their annual meetings in September.

Ongoing Research

David updated the Committee on research projects currently underway or soon to begin, including:

1.      Fish communities study by Virginia Commonwealth University – interim report completed and final report pending

2.      Benthic macroinvertebrate identification by Virginia Commonwealth University – currently underway

3.      Natural heritage inventory of headwaters of watershed by Division of Natural Heritage of VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation – currently underway

4.      Sustainable economic development study by Virginia Institute of Marine Science – to begin in October

Invasive Species

David described an ad-hoc group of scientists and resource managers from state agencies and universities who are interested in monitoring and controlling invasive species in the Dragon Run watershed. The group includes: MPPDC; Dept. of Environmental Quality (VA Coastal Program); Virginia Institute of Marine Science; Virginia Commonwealth University; Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries; Marine Resources Commission; Dept. of Conservation and Recreation; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and The Nature Conservancy. Species of major concern are blue catfish and common reed, or Phragmites. Aerial assessment of Phragmites is planned and DGIF and VCU have both performed electrofishing to assess blue catfish. On July 23, ~150 blue catfish were collected from the lower Dragon Run/upper Piankatank. On July 24, only a few specimens were collected. The hope is that the population can be kept at bay so that blue catfish do not eliminate native fish species or freshwater mussels from the Dragon Run.

Robert Major noted that Phragmites was not seen in the Dragon Run until about 30-40 years ago. He also noted that the catfish assemblages that he encountered in the Dragon Run as a child are no longer present. Now, up to 30-pound catfish are caught in the lower Dragon Run and these did not appear until about 25 years ago.


Chair Davis adjourned the meeting.

Dragon Run Steering Committee
Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission
Spring Quarterly Meeting
May 14, 2003


1. Welcome
2. Land Use Policy Audit update
3. Dragon Run SAMP update - grants and proposals
4. Planning for Public Informational Meetings
5. Other Business
6. Adjourn


Steering Committee: Frank Herrin, Russell Williams (King and Queen); Robert Major (Middlesex); Prue Davis, Dorothy Miller (Essex)

Others: Rachel Williams (King and Queen); Robert Hudgins (Gloucester); Mike Anderberg (Friends of Dragon Run); Vladimir Gavrilovic (Paradigm Design); David Fuss (MPPDC)

Welcome and Announcements

Prue Davis called the meeting to order. David Fuss provided the following announcements:
- Recent and upcoming speaking engagements to civic groups about the Dragon Run SAMP
- Recent erosion assessment field outing with a shoreline engineer from the VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation's Shoreline Erosion Advisory Service
- Announcement of Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund Advisory Committee award of $10,000
- Watershed open house at Rose Hill Farm (Hundley estate) on Sunday, May 18 at 3 PM

Land Use Policy Audit update

David Fuss introduced Vladimir Gavrilovic of Paradigm Design, whose firm has been contracted to perform a land use policy audit of the Dragon Run watershed. Last night, he presented a Technical Memorandum summarizing his findings (handout). Vlad briefed the Committee on the purpose of the Policy Audit and summarized his findings. Highlights included: the watershed is not specifically identified in the Comp Plans; major subdivisions are strictly controlled through the subdivision ordinance; differences in implementation of Bay Act; Dragon Run Conservation District; and complexity of the regulations. Vlad noted several opportunities, including: consistency between Comp Plan, zoning ordinance and subdivision ordinance; extending Resource Management Area designations; and more comprehensive literature explaining ordinances and policies. Next steps include: feedback; recommendations; illustrations; and a final report. Questions were asked about streamside protection measures, such as the Bay Act and the Dragon Run Conservation District.

Dragon Run SAMP update

David Fuss updated the Committee on activities of the Special Area Management Plan. Specifically, he focused on the recent submittal of a draft grant proposal for the fiscal year 2003 running from October 1, 2003 to September 30, 2004. A main focus for the proposal is facilitating the implementation of the watershed management plan, which is still in draft form now. Two other ideas will receive greater attention. One is the development of a professional education program focusing on informing decision-makers and community leaders about watershed issues and the Special Area Management Plan. The second idea is the pursuit of a market-based sustainable economic development study to identify opportunities to develop regional capacity to produce value-added or alternative farm, forest, and resource-based products and services. The idea of managing more lands for hunting was brought up. Also, the question of how much education is appropriate was raised. Could too much education encourage overvisitation and yield adverse impacts? The education program's focus would be on decision-makers and landowners, not on encouraging visitation. Also, Friends of Dragon Run noted that their trips do not encourage many repeat visitors, but more often provide one-time visitors a chance to experience the Dragon Run and make a positive connection between its preservation and planning efforts.

Planning for Public Informational Meetings

David offered the idea of holding public meetings in each locality to present the elements of the watershed management plan to the public. He asked the Committee to consider how, when and where these meetings should be held. The Committee felt that the courthouses would be the best place to hold the meetings. There was discussion about how to attract people to come to the event. The Committee agreed that the meetings should be held in the fall of the year and target hunt club members, as the annual meetings for hunt clubs occur at that time. Besides advertising in the local newspapers, invitations to landowners and hunt club presidents should be issued. Landowner information can be retrieved from tax records and the presidents of hunt clubs should be available from the game wardens. Meetings should be advertised as a way to protect hunting rights and availability and refreshments such as hot dogs and hamburgers should be offered.

Other Business

The Committee discussed a wide range of topics, including:
- Concern about the sale of John Hancock timberland and who may be buying the land and for what purpose
- Concern about pollution and how upland buffers and swamps help to mediate pollution contained in runoff
- A suggestion that the Steering Committee could purchase land or hold conservation easements - the Committee felt that easements would best be held by a non-profit organization rather than a governmental entity
- Discussion of state and federal tax benefits of conservation easements
- The Virginia Marine Resource Commission's denial of a permit for an intake pipe for the proposed King William Reservoir along the Mattaponi River

The Committee also discussed plans for its August 13 quarterly meeting. The Committee enjoyed last year's August picnic at Robert Major's house. Mr. Major offered the use of his property for another picnic this August and it was agreed that the meeting would be held there at 6 PM as a potluck dinner.


Prue Davis called for a motion to adjourn. Dorothy Miller motioned, and Frank Herrin seconded. The meeting was adjourned.

Dragon Run Steering Committee
Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission
Spring Quarterly Meeting
February 12, 2003


1. Welcome
2. Forest Legacy Program funding in the Dragon Run
3. DCR Chesapeake Bay Watershed Grant update
4. Legislative update
5. SAMP update
6. Dragon Run Story project
7. 2003 Work Plan
8. Other Business
9. Adjourn


Steering Committee: Keith Haden, Frank Herrin (King and Queen); Jack Miller (Middlesex); Prue Davis, Dorothy Miller, Scott Owen (Essex); Rick Allen, Betty DeHardit, Jerry Horner (Gloucester)

Others: Bill DeHardit (Gloucester); David Fuss (MPPDC)


Chair Davis convened the meeting and welcomed everyone.

Forest Legacy Program funding

David Fuss discussed the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Legacy Program FY04 funding proposal for the Dragon Run watershed. The proposal, which was submitted by the VA Dept. of Forestry, would direct $3 million toward the protection of working forests in the watershed. David distributed a handout that explained the main points of the proposal and the funding program and offered web sites for further information. There was some discussion about the possibility of the funding being used for the establishment of a state forest in the Dragon Run (this is not explicitly part of the proposal).

DCR Watershed Grant update

David Fuss provided a brief update about the status of projects that are being funded by a watershed grant from the VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation. The funding will allow VCU researchers to collect and identify benthic macroinvertebrates, including freshwater mussels. The funding will also allow the VA Natural Heritage Program to document natural communities and rare species in the headwaters of the Dragon Run. Finally, the funding will pay a land use consultant to audit the land use policies of the localities within the watershed. This study will provide recommendations to the Dragon Run Steering Committee and its Advisory Group in its effort to develop a watershed management plan for the Dragon Run. A land use consultant will be hired soon and will start in late March or early April.

Legislative update

David Fuss distributed a summary of bills being considered by the 2003 General Assembly that may be of interest to the Steering Committee. He also indicated that their status may be tracked on the web-based Legislative Information System.

SAMP update

David Fuss provided an update on the Special Area Management Plan project. The Steering Committee's Advisory Group is developing action plans to achieve the SAMP goals and objectives. Research and information are being incorporated into the planning process. David has been making presentations to community groups about the SAMP. Once a draft watershed management plan is prepared, David plans to present it to the public at open meetings in each locality.

Dragon Run Story project

David Fuss briefed the group about the project to create a Dragon Run Story. He noted that Committee members and other citizens had been contacted by a Virginia Tech student who is working on the project. David distributed a copy of the interview questions to the Committee, asking them to return them to him or the student, if they wished to complete the survey.

2003 Work Plan

David Fuss asked the Steering Committee to consider the proposed 2003 Work Plan that he drafted. The work plan includes items to which they have committed in grants and items that have been identified as areas of interest.

Proposed 2003 Work Plan

1. Dragon Run SAMP
2. Land Use Policy Audit
3. Outreach to Boards of Supervisors, Planning Commissions, citizens
4. Legislative issues
5. Property rights
6. Dragon Festival pre-planning

There was Committee discussion about the nature of these meetings and the role of the public in developing a watershed management plan. While Ms. DeHardit maintained that non-landowners should not have a say about how landowners manage their land, other Committee members argued the benefits of getting feedback from the public to inform planning for the future of the watershed. Ms. DeHardit was also concerned about publicity attracting visitor interest in the Dragon Run, which sometimes causes trespass problems for landowners.

Frank Herrin suggested an additional Work Plan item that the Steering Committee host a fall picnic for Boards of Supervisors, Planning Commissions, and the SAMP Advisory Group to get acquainted with each other, share fellowship, and follow up on the Memorandum of Agreement between all of them. It was noted that this might help to gain agreement to the Steering Committee's recommendations in the watershed management plan.

It was noted that the additional item could be considered 'Outreach to Boards of Supervisors, Planning Commissions, citizens.' Frank Herrin motioned to adopt the 2003 Work Plan. The motion was seconded by Dorothy Miller and carried unanimously.

Other Business

Dorothy Miller brought up the topic of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) targeting cutover timberland in Essex County owned by John Hancock Life Insurance Company. She discussed the possible negative ramifications on land values that might occur from TNC offering much higher prices than the going value of cutover land. Ms. Miller requested that the Steering Committee send a letter to TNC requesting that they reappraise at lower rates and offer opportunities to adjacent landowners to purchase the land. Scott Owen and Keith Haden indicated that their experience is that Hancock is asking for a price that is higher than the going value of cutover land.

In response to concern about TNC's role in the sale and development of land, David Fuss suggested a review of TNC's general approach to conserving land in the Dragon Run watershed. TNC's goal is to conserve 15,000 acres in the watershed. In order to leverage funding, their approach might entail purchasing large tracts, establishing conservation easements on parts of those tracts, and then selling the tract with easement restrictions on it. The funds leveraged from this transaction would be used to purchase more easements in the watershed. Ideally, TNC would seek a conservation-minded buyer who is willing to donate the easement, thereby taking the financial burden of the cost of the easement off of TNC. In the absence of an easement donor, TNC would buy the easement. The easement would result in a significant stream buffer that would remove some timber production from the tract and restrictions on the locations of home sites. In the example used by Ms. Miller, this would mean 1-2 homesites. Significantly, TNC has indicated a desire to seek the Steering Committee's input on how the land should be managed after it has been initially purchased by the TNC. David explained that this is a change from the Steering Committee's role in how other Dragon Run lands are managed. It represents an opportunity for the Steering Committee to help determine how TNC's 15,000 acres will be managed.

There was some discussion about where development would occur if it was sold by Hancock. There was also discussion about the possibility of Steering Committee pursuing a memorandum of agreement with TNC and other conservation landowners (e.g. Friends of Dragon Run, VIMS) that would provide guidelines for conservation land management.

Following some concern about what role the Steering Committee should play in this situation and what conflicts of interest might arise from the Steering Committee's involvement in private land transactions, the Committee was non-committal and decided to take no further action.


Chair Davis adjourned the meeting.

See meeting minutes from: 2009 |2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999| 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | Top
[an error occurred while processing this directive]