Meeting with government representatives on September 22, 2010

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Members of the Chesapeake Shores and Bavon Beach Homeowners Associations met on September 22, 2010, with representatives of several government agencies to discuss beach preservation efforts. The following people were present at the meeting:

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
    • Tylan Dean (Gloucester, VA)
    • Mike Drummond (Gloucester, VA)
    • Diane Lynch (Hadley, MA)
    • Glenn Smith (Hadley, MA)
  • Army Corps of Engineers
    • Kristen Donofrio
  • Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
    • Larry Smith
    • Rebecca Wilson
  • Mathews County
    • Matt Rowe
    • John Shaw
  • Chesapeake Shores HOA
    • Peyton Carr
    • Joe Dzikiewicz
    • Jack Caldwell
    • Sonny Fauver
  • Bavon Beach HOA
    • Bill Powell
    • Dennis Baker

In addition, representatives from Luck Stone and the Nature Conservancy were invited but could not attend.

The following was discussed at the meeting:

  • Luck Stone is still planning on donating stone. Their committee handling this will decide on amount and timing on October 15.
  • There was a review of the problem and efforts to date to establish a plan for beach protection. Matt Rowe reviewed Mathews County's efforts and Bill Powell presented pictures of the beach over time.
  • Mathews County has started a county-wide program to protect the Tiger Beetle and its habitats. This was largely inspired by the efforts on our beach.
  • While Mathews County will not run the beach protection project, they will be brokers and administrative contacts for homeowners to coordinate communication between our beach and the various government agencies involved.
  • The Virginia DCR is the grant applicant.
  • This is not the usual beach preservation approach favored by the Fish and Wildlife Service. They usually favor approaches that allow natural forces to hold sway. But they consider the state of our beach to be a concern and are fully supportive of our efforts.
  • In the Tiger Beetle survey done by Fish and Wildlife this past June and July, they found 6 beetles on the southern part of the beach, 16 on the north, and 1075 in the beach areas further to the south bordering on Mobjack Bay. This is lower than found in previous years. (Note that these don't represent a full census of the beetle population, but rather indexed counts.) In addition, the beach areas bordering on the Mobjack are the most active tern nesting areas in the region.
  • The government agencies feel that having a homeowners association to deal with simplifies the grant process.
  • There are two Fish and Wildlife grants under immediate consideration.
    • There is a $200,000 grant application out for the Bavon Beach project. The decision on this grant should be known soon. (Note: since the meeting, Bill Powell has been informed that Fish and Wildlife turned down this grant.)
    • The Fish and Wildlife Coastal Grants Program meeting to consider the application for the $1,000,000 grant will be held the last weekend in October with final decisions being made by the end of year. This is the grant submitted by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for funds to be used for the entire breakwater project.
  • While letters supporting the grants are a good thing, they probably won't be much help.
  • There was a great deal of concern about the number of visitors on the southern edge of the beach (the uninhabited area bordering the Mobjack Bay). Observers counted as many as 500 people there over the Fourth of July weekend. This is harmful to the beach and the tiger beetle and tern habitats that are there. However, there were no real ideas on what could be done to deal with those crowds.
  • At that end of the beach, Mathews County owns five acres of land. The rest is owned by an individual.
  • The various government agencies need access to the beach to monitor its condition. When the beach protection is done, we need to make sure that the parking areas provided for the workers are kept available for the monitors.
  • In general, Fish and Wildlife likes to see projects completed within a year of giving the grant.
  • Mathews County is supportive of using an East River site as a depot for rocks to be used in the project.
  • Mike Drummond is the point person from Fish and Wildlife for our grants.
  • John Shaw is Mathews County point person for the project.
  • Availability of sand from Army Corps of Engineers projects is uncertain and dependent on congressional funding of dredging projects. A likely source would be Horn Harbor dredging. Our beach is Mathews County's top priority for getting dredged sand as it is available. There are other potential sources of sand, though quality of sand is a consideration. Fish and Wildlife is doing an analysis of the necessary quality of sand from the perspective of the tiger beetle.
  • It is helpful that property owners do not own down to the low-tide line as no single property owner can veto placement of dredged sand.
  • Any plan would involve putting in place some restrictions on beach use in order to protect the habitats. An example of such a restriction would be to disallow use of all-terrain vehicles on the beach. Further discussion on this is necessary.
  • The HOA's need to get a feel from its members of how they use the beach for purposes of negotiating the usage restrictions.
  • The government folks agreed to pass on beach preservation guidelines, to include guidelines on how to build sand fencing. I'll put those here as soon as they are available.
  • There was general agreement that we've got a lovely beach here with an impressive level of support for beach preservation measures and well-catered meetings. (Lunch was excellent!)