Lynnhaven River NOW Comments

May 25, 2012

Mr. Brian Solis
Parks and Recreation, Planning, Design and Development
City of Virginia Beach
Building 21, 2408 Courthouse Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23456

Ms. Christy Everett
Hampton Roads Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
142 W. York Street, Suite 618
Norfolk, Virginia 23510

Dear Brian Solis and Christy Everett,

Acquisition of the Pleasure House Point property is a tremendous opportunity for the citizens of Virginia Beach. This is a beautiful piece of property where residents and visitors will be able to enjoy views of the river, shoreline fishing, healthy wetlands, maritime forest, native oyster reefs and shallow water ecosystems. To plan for restoration and use of this property is both an opportunity and a challenge for our community. As many have said, we do not want to love Pleasure House Point (PHP) to death. We seek the right balance of restoration and protection of the natural habitat and public access for education and recreation.

For Lynnhaven River NOW (LRNow), protection of this property and the potential for restoration and education are aligned with our mission and are very important to us. Lynnhaven River NOW will assist in planning for the management of PHP and implementation of the plans in any way that we can.

The Pleasure House Point property has greater restoration potential than any other property in the Lynnhaven River watershed. LRNow supports wetlands restoration on the property to the fullest extent possible. Wetlands provide many habitat and water quality benefits. The opportunity for wetland restoration is greater here than any place else in our watershed as is the opportunity to educate children and adults about the values and benefits of the Lynnhaven’s tidal wetlands. Restoring even part of the tidal wetlands on Pleasure House Point can potentially improve water quality in Pleasure House Creek and Lynnhaven Bay.

Lynnhaven River Now has expertise in wetlands, habitat and oyster restoration and would like to be involved in the development of the management plan for the land under conservation easement. We are suggesting that the Center for Conservation Biology, Virginia Association of Wetland Professionals, VIMS Center for Coastal Resource Management and the NOAA Restoration Center also be included in the development of the conservation easement management plan. Each brings expertise and experience that will help us develop the best management plan possible for Pleasure House Point. All plans for restoration and land management should include the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and the CBF land as an essential part of the whole parcel. And all plans for this property should carefully consider sea level rise predictions.

Balancing public access with conservation and restoration goals could be challenging as we move forward and public access needs to be carefully planned. Education is a key component to good stewardship by all who visit Pleasure House Point. Modeling best practices and providing effective signage are important

components of raising awareness and promoting good stewardship. LRNow is offering to assist in the development and facilitation of educational programs as well as the design of informational signs for the Pleasure House Point property.

Due to the sensitive nature of coastal habitats, careful consideration should be given to how and when dogs will be allowed on the PHP property. Dog waste has been and remains a serious problem. Changing the habits of dog owners will be necessary if dogs are going to be allowed.

The Lynnhaven River shoreline of PHP offers one of the best opportunities for wade fishing in the Lynnhaven River and should remain accessible for those desiring to use the shoreline for fishing. This may require different hours of access for fishermen than for others using the park.

Canoe and kayak access should be provided to the public in a location that is reasonably accessible from the available parking so that boats can be transported without too much difficulty. In addition, the canoe/kayak launch area should be located where it does not impact existing marsh and where the water depth is adequate to allow boaters to use the launch at both low and high tides. Consideration should be given to a canoe/kayak launch site that is shared by the Education Center and the public. Like the Crab Creek launch, a sandy beach area along the river could be designated as a canoe/kayak launch area also.

Pleasure House Point includes tidal wetlands, maritime forest, scrub-shrub areas, shallow water habitat in the creek, native oysters, deeper water in the river, and sandy beach on the eastern end of the property. In addition to the diversity of plant life, PHP is home to an amazing diversity of wildlife. Like restoration, the potential for both school programs and community educational programs at Pleasure House Point exceeds the opportunities at any other site in the Lynnhaven watershed.

CBF, LRNow and Oyster Reefkeepers of Virginia have all worked effectively with the Virginia Beach City Public Schools for many years on the development and facilitation of environmental education in all of our schools. We look forward to the increased opportunities that PHP will provide to expand and enhance our educational programming for children and adults.

In addition, the careful use of the site itself can help to educate the public on strategies and techniques that they can implement on their own commercial and residential properties. The most persuasive educational tool is the behavior that we can model at Pleasure House Point.

Public Works Engineering staff is already considering strategies that they might employ to improve stormwater management in Ocean Park and reduce stormwater runoff through the PHP property. We encourage the city to explore all possibilities to improve stormwater management on Shore Drive and the Ocean Park neighborhood and reduce the detrimental impact of stormwater on the Pleasure House Point eco-systems.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments and to participate in the Stakeholder process.


Karen W. Forget
Executive Director


3 responses to “Lynnhaven River NOW Comments

  1. George Meredith MD, President
    Linkhorn-Rudee Waterway Fund
    Mr. Luke LeBas, LaCoast
    617 North 3rd Street
    Baton Rouge, LA 70804
    (225) 342-4102
    Dear Mr. LeBas,
    Thank you for taking the time to speak with me yesterday re: the prospect of using a 12” hydraulic rotary cutting head pipeline dredge to deepen a five mile stretch of the Western Branch of the Lynnhaven River here in Virginia Beach. While simultaneously using the spoils to reconstruct the fringe salt marshes of that Western Branch. As you are a respected supervisor of a number of Breaux marsh restoration projects.
    In summary, we discussed that:
    • Channel deepening by pipeline dredge requires no expensive land purchase for vertical spoil site and/or messy spoil transfer site (in this case expensive land near the junction of the Western Branch of the Lynnhaven River and Virginia Beach Boulevard)
    • With pipeline dredge, there is no subsequent need for trucking of “decontaminated spoils” with related wear and tear on roads and bridges. No air pollution related to said trucking. Ditto for (truck and barge) diesel fuel consumption related to mechanical dredging projects. Ditto re: truck-school bus-motor vehicle safety considerations. As well as traffic congestion considerations re: subsequent trucking of dewatered spoils from proposed vertical spoil site near Virginia Beach Boulevard.
    • And there would be no net loss of sediment for the Lynnhaven basin and its existing wetlands
    • Nitrogen (NH4 ) rich sand-silt spoils, or primarily nitrogen rich silt spoils, applied to adjacent shore lines on a 1:6 slope, between the high and low tide marks, would, with some scattered plantings of Spartina Alterniflora, in about 12 months, result in viable, functioning tidal salt marshes. With all their attendant abilities to filter and remove raw sewage, partially treated sewage, heavy metals, benzene, atrazine, nitrogen, phosphorus, chlorine, PCBs, all types of sediment and even radioactive nucleotides. As has been accurately demonstrated by NOAA marine biologist Dr. B.C. Wolverton and others, in a number of well documented studies.
    • Course sand alone, although useful for beach restoration, because it is not nitrogen rich (like silt or sand silt combinations), is not ideal for fringe marsh restorations. As opposed to the current case for restoration of the fringe marshes of the Western Branch of the Lynnhaven River, using sediment produced during the channel deepening planned for the fall-winter of 2008 and beyond.
    • Clay substrate, contrary to popular opinion, can also be used for marshland reconstruction by pipeline. But requires special techniques as were used in the Vermillion Bay, Louisiana marsh reconstruction…eg, using mechanical dredges to deposit lines or sills of clay, seaward of the restoration projects, in order to hold the emulsified (chocolate milk) clay spoil long enough for it to settle out. Therefore, it’s important to study the core samples from the Western Branch in order to know if a mechanical dredge assist would be necessary for a pipeline dredge marsh restoration project re: the case where there are extensive clay sediments in the channel.
    George Meredith MD
    President, Linkhorn Rudee Waterway Fund
    Hansen Exhibits
    George Meredith MD
    1604 Dendron Drive
    Virginia Beach, VA 23451
    August 12, 2008
    Col. David L. Hansen
    Chief of Finance and Technology,
    City of Virginia Beach
    Municipal Building 1
    2401 Courthouse Drive , #214A
    Virginia Beach, VA 23456
    Dear Colonel Hansen,
    I’m in receipt of yours of July 30, 2008. Thank you for your prompt response.
    Where to begin?.
    Contrary to the impression you give, there must have been some sort of document generated during the course of this (secret) May 20, 2008 meeting with Mrs. Grace Moran representing the Ocean Park Civic League and the Shore Drive Community Coalition and Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf and you, during which the fate of critical Western Branch of the Lynnhaven River shoreline marsh restoration was determined. Because Mrs. Moran clearly stated in her emails that the Mayor said she would fully appraise cc (city council) of the details of this most important meeting. I will take the mayor at her word that VBCC was, in fact, appraised re: this May 20th meeting. see: Moran emails
    And since neither the mayor nor Mrs. Moran, by their own admissions, are not really that knowledgeable with issues like the role of sediment in maintaining viable tidal marshlands. Nor the mechanics of the hydraulic rotary head pipeline dredge in efficiently dredging navigation channels while simultaneously restoring critical tidal marshes. Nor the expanding role of polyethylene piping for efficient placement of hydraulic rotary head pipeline dredge spoils for tidal marsh restoration.
    Nor the role of the Rolligon Amphibious Ditcher Spreader in recreating tidal creeks, which is often required when a living shoreline (fringe marsh) is established (reestablished). Nor mechanical placement of clay sills, as was done in the Vermillion Bay, Louisiana marsh restoration project because of the fine pipeline clay (chocolate milk) dredge spoil placement there.
    Why, Mrs. Moran and Mayor Oberndorf would have to depend on you to explain these things to cc, wouldn’t they? Therefore, I must conclude that some sort of a document was produced, with your (invaluable) input. By copy of this letter, I’m once again, under the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, asking both you and Mayor Oberndorf to produce said document!
    Your paragraph 3 (July 30, 2008)…”creating a foundation for planting vegetative material”…contrary to your implication, pipeline restoration of living shorelines, does not require a formal “planting (of) vegetative material (spartina alterniflora)”…the “vegetative material” in fact will volunteer …no plantings are needed, if the rules of Breaux are adhered to…that is 1:6 slope between the high and low water marks.
    See my correspondence with Mr. Luke LeBas, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. Mr. LeBas was a Project Manager for several large Breaux marsh restoration efforts in Louisiana. (Mr. LeBas said he’d be happy to speak with any interested members of the Virginia Beach City Council re: same).
    You may have told Mrs. Moran and Mrs. Oberndorf that you had “extensive dredging experience while managing over 24 river realignment projects…in the Red River Waterway Project…1985 through 1989…” (Hansen para 3, July 30, 2008) But I submit that these two came away from the (secret) May 20th meeting thinking that you were a “USACE engineer on the Breaux projects down in Louisiana”…which is anything but the truth! See: Moran emails
    To the contrary, you were a project engineer on what Taxpayers for Common Sense have described Senator J. Bennett Johnson’s $2.1 billion pork barrel project, the Red River Waterway, as “inefficient …attracting barely..little new barge traffic”. An environmental nightmare…converting the wild Red River into a storm water conduit…a little used barge waterway…eliminating those marshlands and oxbows which had provided, for centuries, critical filtration and flood control functions.
    Sir, you were anything but an engineer on those Breaux (tidal) marshland restoration projects. You, in fact were the exact opposite. See Micheal Grunwald’s best seller Cry Me a River…It’s all about you and your USACE colleagues and how you blew $2.1 billion while simultaneously destroying the beautiful Red River in northern and central Louisana as well as elsewhere. Colonel Hansen, you were, instead, an environmental roto rooter on the USACE Red River Waterway project! The same role, I contend, that you and Virginia Beach City Manager Jim Spore are now playing in the upcoming Western Branch environmental disaster!

    George Meredith MD, President
    Linkhorn Rudee Waterway

  2. I’m not sure I understand the relevance of this post, but I disagree with Mr. Meredith’s statements about wetland restoration.


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