4 Va. Admin. Code § 20-1030-40 - The management plan
Current through Register Vol.. 38, No. 17, April 11, 2022
State owned lands defined in the management plan will, subject to state and federal laws, be kept open and accessible for the use of the citizens of the Commonwealth. Traditional compatible uses (e.g., hunting, fishing and fowling) will be accommodated as provided for by local, state or federal laws.
Resource protection will rely on a network of federal, state and local laws and regulations. Requirements for local, state and federal permits and licenses will be observed, and the usual application procedures will be followed. Surveillance and enforcement mechanisms will remain in effect. The ungranted state lands fall under a number of different and overlapping jurisdictions and coordination, and cooperation among all levels of government is essential as is centralized storage and management of ungranted state lands information.
The following administrative framework identifies roles and responsibilities of Virginia state agencies and the Virginia Coastal Land Management Advisory Council involved in implementing this management plan.
The VMRC, in consultation with other affected state agencies, shall have the power to regulate outdoor recreational activities that threaten the natural integrity of the ungranted state lands. Regulation of outdoor recreational activities shall be in accordance with the recreational activities section of this plan and the Administrative Process Act, §§ 9-6:14.11 and 9-6:14.12 of the Code of Virginia.
The VMRC shall have the power to amend this management plan as necessary to protect and preserve the ungranted state lands. Amendments to this plan will be in accordance with the provisions of the amendments section of this plan and the procedures established in Article 2 (§ 28.2-209 et seq.) of Chapter 2 of Title 28.2 of the Code of Virginia.
The VMRC shall periodically review the real property inventories of ungranted state lands on the Eastern Shore and may amend or supplement an inventory as may be appropriate. Any amendment or supplement to an inventory shall be filed with the clerks' offices in Northampton and Accomack counties. The VMRC shall publish a notice of the filing of an amendment or supplement to an inventory according to the statutory requirements for public notice contained in Article 1 (§ 28.2-1500 et seq.) of Chapter 15 of Title 28.2 of the Code of Virginia.
The VCLMAC shall be comprised of six residents of Northampton and Accomack Counties. They shall represent tourism and commerce, traditional uses of shores of the sea, marsh and meadowlands, and conservation interests. Any private person or entity owning more than 50% of the land area of the barrier islands of the Eastern Shore shall be one of the six members. The residents serving on the VCLMAC will be appointed by the Governor. In making these appointments, the Governor shall consider recommendations submitted by the Boards of Supervisors of Northampton and Accomack Counties.
The VCLMAC shall also include the Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation or his designee, the Director of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or his designee, and the Commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission or his designee.
The VCLMAC shall advise the VMRC on issues relating to the management of ungranted shores of the sea, marsh and meadowlands, and shall advise the VMRC on the development of the management plan prepared pursuant to § 28.2-1504 of the Code of Virginia.
The term of office of each appointed member of the VCLMAC shall be for three years. Appointments to fill vacancies shall be made to fill the unexpired term. Members of the VCLMAC shall receive no compensation for their services but shall receive reimbursement for actual expenses.
The VCLMAC shall meet at the call of the Commissioner of the VMRC or at least once per year. The VCLMAC may recommend proposed regulations or guidelines for the ungranted state lands to the VMRC. The VMRC shall have final decision-making authority on the promulgation of proposed regulations and guidelines.
The VCLMAC may recommend to the VMRC resolutions to conflicts between parties on the use of the ungranted state lands. The VMRC shall have the authority to decide cases of conflicting uses. The VCLMAC may recommend amendments to this management plan. The VMRC shall have final decision-making authority on proposed amendments to this plan.
The VMRC is empowered to make regulations or resolve conflicts affecting the ungranted state lands. The VCLMAC shall have the power to recommend proposed regulations to the VMRC. The adoption process shall be carried out in accordance with Article 2 (§ 28.2-2800 et seq.) of Chapter 2 of Title 28.2 of the Code of Virginia.
In addition, in accordance with the provisions of § 28.2-214 of the Code of Virginia, any person may petition the VMRC for the adoption, amendment or repeal of a regulation. When a private party petitions the VMRC for the adoption, amendment or repeal of a regulation, VMRC shall provide a written response to such petition within 180 days from the date the petition was received.
The VMRC shall establish and maintain a list or lists of persons expressing an interest in the adoption, amendment or repeal of regulations. Any person wishing to be placed on the list may do so by writing to the VMRC. The VMRC shall hold at least one public meeting when it considers the adoption, amendment or repeal of a regulation.
Traditional and current recreational uses of the ungranted state lands include hunting, fishing, fowling, clamming, oystering, crabbing, trapping, camping, picnicking, beachcombing, salvaging (or wrecking), birdwatching, and other nature study. These activities are subject to federal laws and the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is not the intent, objective or desire of this management plan to change existing law unless it is found that current uses threaten the natural integrity of these lands and resources.
The following uses and activities on the ungranted state lands are permitted, if otherwise permitted by federal and state law: conservation, repletion and research activities of the VMRC, VIMS, DGIF, DCR, and other related conservation agencies and educational institutions. Outdoor recreational activities provided that such activities do not (i) impair the natural function of these state lands, or (ii) alter the natural contour of these state lands.
If certain traditional recreational activities are found to threaten the natural integrity of the ungranted state lands, the VMRC shall be empowered through basic laws to regulate the recreational activities to the extent necessary to protect and preserve these lands and their resources. Recommendations for the regulation of recreational activities may come from other state agencies, the VCLMAC, and private parties.
Before initiating such regulations, the VMRC shall consult with other affected state agencies to ensure their knowledge of, and agreement with, the proposed regulation. The VMRC, in deciding to proceed with such regulation, shall follow the procedures for promulgation of regulations set forth in the adoption, amendment or repeal of regulations section of this management plan set out above.
This management plan is designed to protect the resources of the ungranted state lands and to provide for research, education and compatible traditional activities. When traditional uses conflict with research and education uses or threaten the integrity of the natural resources, every effort will be made to address the conflicts through a hearing process.
The VMRC is empowered to resolve cases of conflicting uses of the ungranted state lands. Parties in conflict shall appeal to the VMRC for resolution of the conflict and determination of appropriate use. The VMRC shall ascertain the fact basis for their decisions on conflicting uses through an informal conference or consultation proceeding as provided for in the Administrative Process Act (§ 9-6.14:11 of the Code of Virginia). In any case where the informal procedures have failed to resolve the case, the VMRC shall hold a formal hearing in accordance with the provisions of § 9-6.14:12 of the Code of Virginia.
Any party aggrieved by a decision or determination of the VMRC shall have the right to the direct review by an appropriate and timely court action in accordance with the provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 9-6.14:1 et seq. of the Code of Virginia).
This management plan was developed to protect the resources on the ungranted state lands while allowing for traditional compatible uses that comply with federal and state laws and regulations and are in keeping with the good ecological health of the entire surrounding ecosystem. Known management issues have been addressed in this section. As other issues arise or are identified which require specific management, it will be necessary to amend the management plan.
Amendments to this management plan may originate with either (i) the VMRC, (ii) the VCLMAC, or (iii) any person through a petition to the VMRC or the VCLMAC to request an amendment to the plan.
Before approving and adopting any amendment to this management plan, the VMRC shall hold at least one public hearing on the amendment after which the lead agency may make appropriate changes or amendments to the management plan.
Because of the sensitivity of bird nesting colonies, active colonies of nesting birds and 100 meters around these active colonies shall be considered sensitive from April 15 to August 31 of each year. Entrance into these areas for any reason other than approved and permitted research and monitoring activities shall be prohibited during the specified period.
Currently there appears to be little conflict between existing public use patterns and birds nesting on ungranted state lands. As an alternative to posting each colony every summer and then enforcing those posted restricted areas, it is anticipated that an educational approach will be instituted. Through various media and targeting primary user groups, the public will be educated regarding the sensitivity of the nesting birds and encouraged to remain at least 100 meters away from active colonies. Active bird colonies which are close to high use areas may be posted and monitored if this becomes necessary to protect nesting birds.
In an emergency situation, it may be necessary for the VMRC to issue emergency regulations. For purposes of this plan, "emergency situation" means
The VMRC shall have the power to promulgate necessary emergency regulations. The emergency regulation shall be adopted in accordance with the provisions of the agency process for making emergency regulations. Emergency regulations shall remain in effect no longer than 30 days unless a public hearing is held as required in § 28.2-211 after being advertised as prescribed in § 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia.
The VCLMAC shall have the power to make recommendations for emergency regulations to the VMRC. Private parties shall have the power to recommend emergency regulations to either the VCLMAC, who will forward the request to the VMRC for action, or directly to the VMRC.
Wildfire, whether ignited naturally or by arson, may occasionally affect the ungranted state lands. Prescribed fire, although not indicated for the ungranted state lands at this time, may become a necessary management tool in the future. Wildfires should be monitored and action should be taken to protect neighboring property when necessary. The VMRC may propose regulations regarding campfires if the need arises.
Education initiatives focusing on watermen, anglers, recreational boaters, and tourists should be designed and instituted to raise awareness to the sensitive resources of the ungranted state lands and to encourage visitors to respect requests for protecting these resources. A major thrust of educational endeavors should be information about the sensitivity of nesting birds and persuasion of visitors to honor the recommended seasonal restricted areas.
The media or public education may include posters displayed at public boat landings and other community gathering places (libraries, schools, etc.), brochures or "fact sheets" distributed with salt water fishing licenses, brochures sent to tourists and tour guides, brochures distributed at the parks and refuges of the area, and public service announcements on local radio stations.
As public use of lands on the Eastern Shore of Virginia increases, the effects of tours and visits to or near the ungranted state lands and their sensitive biological resources should be determined. It may be possible to monitor and, if necessary, manage public use through mechanisms established by existing regulations.
Previous intentional and unintentional introductions should be examined regarding impact to native wildlife and, if necessary, control or eradication measures should be pursued.
Introductions of nonindigenous species may present a threat to native wildlife and native habitats. Introductions into sensitive areas have been known to cause serious ecosystem dysfunction. On the ungranted state lands, nonindigenous wetland plants could significantly alter the wetland habitat and nonindigenous animals could directly or indirectly affect indigenous species.
Under this management plan, intentional introductions should be opposed, unless environmental and economic evaluations ensure that the risks associated with the introduction are low. In accordance with the policy of the Chesapeake Bay Program regarding the participation of other jurisdictions in the introduction of nonindigenous species, first-time introductions should also be evaluated by other jurisdictions within the bay region. Final decision, however, lies with the appropriate Virginia agency (VMRC or DGIF). As the threat of unintentional introductions is as great as intentional ones, efforts to prevent such introductions should be pursued through education and monitoring programs.
The control or eradication of a nonindigenous species may become an important issue. If a species which has been accidentally or intentionally introduced is determined to be a threat to native wildlife or habitat, methods of control or eradication should be evaluated in regard to best protecting the natural environment. Such operations (e.g., trapping, spraying, and/or burning) should be carefully carried out by the VMRC, or other designated agency, in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations.
Dredging through or next to ungranted state lands poses a threat to wetlands habitats, birds and other wildlife. The VMRC shall coordinate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other dredging authorities regarding the planning and implementation of dredging projects.
The VMRC shall review all proposals and permit applications for dredging and/or placing of dredged material in the immediate vicinity or adjacent to the ungranted state lands. Surveys for dredging and other projects should be conducted in a manner designed to avoid or minimize the disruption of bird nesting colonies.
A research and monitoring plan which addresses national, state, ecosystem-wide and site-specific research and monitoring needs must be developed. This will require a determination of which national, state, ecosystem-wide, and site-specific priorities are appropriate for consideration on the ungranted state lands. To accomplish this, the VMRC, in coordination with various state agencies, shall solicit input from national and state resource management agencies, affected local governments, and individual citizens.
Under this management plan, the VMRC will work with state and local agencies, interest groups, and local citizens of the Eastern Shore to identify problem areas or concerns associated with the ungranted state lands, and to list and prioritize research and monitoring needs. Some research and monitoring needs have already been identified and should be pursued through appropriate federal and/or state funding. These are:
§§ 28.2-103 and 28.2-1504 of the Code of Virginia.
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