The National Fish and Wildlife Federation, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Chesapeake Bay Program, is awarding the James River Association a $1 million grant for water quality improvements in the James River through a Living Shorelines Collaborative.
The grant comprises part of the federation’s 2020 funding for Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund projects — 56 restoration and water quality improvement grants were awarded for a total of $18.06 million, with an additional $18.9 million match from the grantees bringing the grand total to nearly $37 million, according to a news release from the James River Association.
The Living Shoreline Collaborative is a recently formed group of regional and state partners working together to scale up implementation of resilient practices along shorelines in the tidal James River watershed. This collective effort includes partners from various sectors including nonprofits, academia, local governments, and shoreline professionals. Partners include the Elizabeth River Project, Wetlands Watch, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District, the Department of Conservation and Recreation – Shoreline Erosion Advisory Service, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Dialogue + Design. Together, the collaborative is working to restore sections of the tidal James River and its tributaries through living shorelines, a green infrastructure technique that stabilizes shorelines using natural materials and native vegetation to improve water quality, build resilience, reduce erosion, create habitat, and protect marsh areas, according to the news release.
“Living shorelines are a critical piece of restoring the tidal reaches of the James River watershed,” Emily Hinson, Lower James outreach manager with the James River Association, said in a prepared statement. “Living shorelines incorporate nature into shoreline protection, thereby reducing erosion while improving water quality, providing habitat, and enhancing the scenic beauty of the James. It will require a coordinated effort to achieve Virginia’s goal of implementing over 79,000 linear feet of living shorelines in the James River watershed by 2025. The Living Shoreline Collaborative will bring the necessary partners to the table to address this goal.”
Since 2019, the collaborative has promoted living shorelines by engaging stakeholders through workshops, Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional training, and a Living Shoreline Summit. It is currently in the process of installing three living shoreline demonstration projects in Prince George, Isle of Wight, and Smithfield, and two green infrastructure projects in the City of Hampton.
Over the next three years, JRA is partnering with the Elizabeth River Project to install 2,861 linear feet of living shorelines in the Lower James. These efforts are made possible through support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s National Coastal Resilience Fund and the Virginia Environmental Endowment, according to the news release.
“We know that this goal will require a well-coordinated, regional collaboration and a cadre of living shoreline practitioners,” said Shereen Hughes, assistant director of Wetlands Watch, in a prepared statement. “Wetlands Watch looks forward to working with our experienced LSC partners and the Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (CBLP) program to build a living shoreline contractor training and monitoring program, grow the LSC, and overcome the barriers to living shoreline use in Virginia.”
The $1 million grant through NFWF’s Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction program will allow for an expansion of the existing collaborative by funding living shoreline training, monitoring, and outreach efforts as well as by investing in the Collaborative itself.
The association will partner with the Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District to install 940 linear feet of living shorelines on agricultural land along the James River.
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