One of many completed and future wetlands mitigation sites in the Elizabeth River watershed is Paradise Creek Wetlands creation/restoration now known as Paradise Creek Nature Park. In 2011, The Port of Virginia partnered with the Elizabeth River Project to restore 11 acres of previously filled wetlands. This project not only created habitat but also aids in restoring the natural capacity for flood protection as well as providing a natural filter for stormwater runoff. The site is also home to new nature trails and a kayak launch and is managed by the City of Portsmouth.
To learn more visit www.elizabethriver.org/paradise-creek-restoration
Oyster Reef Mitigation in the Elizabeth River
One phase of mitigation tied to The Craney Island Eastern Expansion (CIEE) mitigation plan consists of oyster restoration and The Port of Virginia in cooperation with Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has begun construction of a network of oyster reefs throughout the Elizabeth River in partial compensation for ecological services lost due to the construction of the CIEE and associated Virginia Port Authority (VPA) port facility.
During the regulatory process, as part of the permitting conditions, the VDEQ requested annual monitoring of the newly created oyster reefs for five years. To that end, The Port of Virginia and USACE have partnered with Christopher Newport University (CNU) to monitor seven oyster reefs which have been established in the following locations:
- Elizabeth River-Lafayette River (2 areas)
- Elizabeth River Western Branch-Baines Creek
- Elizabeth River Southern Branch-Gilligan Creek (2 areas)
- Elizabeth River Southern Branch-St. Julians/Blows Creek
- Lower James River-Hoffler Creek
In compliance with permit requirements, CNU has been monitoring and recording data associated with the newly created oyster reefs to assess the success as mitigation. Monitoring objectives included assessing trend and biomass distribution on the restored habitat at each of the project sites. All work was performed in accordance with applicable Local, State, and Federal Regulations. The monitoring program was designed to address the following:
- Support adaptive management decisions by providing data on critical stages in the development of the reefs that can guide any potential next steps. This monitoring will answer crucial questions that affect future management decisions.
- Evaluate intermediate conditions that help to track progress toward the final goals.
- Aid in identifying unexpected stresses, environmental conditions, and/or ecological interactions that can affect the overall success of the proje
The Port is continuing to work with our partners to monitor the reefs as well as use the collected data to guide decision making for future mitigation projects.