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Code of Virginia
Title 28.2. Fisheries and Habitat of the Tidal Waters
Chapter 13. Wetlands
5/17/2021

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 28.2-1300. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Back Bay and its tributaries" means the following, as shown on the United States Geological Survey Quadrangle Sheets for Virginia Beach, North Bay, and Knotts Island: Back Bay north of the Virginia-North Carolina state line; Capsies Creek north of the Virginia-North Carolina state line; Deal Creek; Devil Creek; Nawney Creek; Redhead Bay, Sand Bay, Shipps Bay, North Bay, and the waters connecting them; Beggars Bridge Creek; Muddy Creek; Ashville Bridge Creek; Hells Point Creek; Black Gut; and all coves, ponds and natural waterways adjacent to or connecting with the above-named bodies of water.

"County, city, or town" means the governing body of the county, city, or town.

"Governmental activity" means any of the services provided by the Commonwealth or a county, city, or town to its citizens for the purpose of maintaining public facilities, including but not limited to, such services as constructing, repairing and maintaining roads; providing street lights and sewage facilities; supplying and treating water; and constructing public buildings.

"Nonvegetated wetlands" means unvegetated lands lying contiguous to mean low water and between mean low water and mean high water, including those unvegetated areas of Back Bay and its tributaries and the North Landing River and its tributaries subject to flooding by normal and wind tides but not hurricane or tropical storm tides.

"North Landing River and its tributaries" means the following, as shown on the United States Geological Survey Quadrangle Sheets for Pleasant Ridge, Creeds, and Fentress: the North Landing River from the Virginia-North Carolina line to Virginia Highway 165 at North Landing Bridge; the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal from Virginia Highway 165 at North Landing Bridge to the locks at Great Bridge; and all named and unnamed streams, creeks and rivers flowing into the North Landing River and the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal except West Neck Creek north of Indian River Road, Pocaty River west of Blackwater Road, Blackwater River west of its forks located at a point approximately 6400 feet due west of the point where Blackwater Road crosses the Blackwater River at the village of Blackwater, and Millbank Creek west of Blackwater Road.

"Vegetated wetlands" means lands lying between and contiguous to mean low water and an elevation above mean low water equal to the factor one and one-half times the mean tide range at the site of the proposed project in the county, city, or town in question, and upon which is growing any of the following species: saltmarsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), saltmeadow hay (Spartina patens), saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), black needlerush (Juncus roemerianus), saltwort (Salicornia spp.), sea lavender (Limonium spp.), marsh elder (Iva frutescens), groundsel bush (Baccharis halimifolia), wax myrtle (Myrica sp.), sea oxeye (Borrichia frutescens), arrow arum (Peltandra virginica), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), big cordgrass (Spartina cynosuroides), rice cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides), wildrice (Zizania aquatica), bulrush (Scirpus validus), spikerush (Eleocharis sp.), sea rocket (Cakile edentula), southern wildrice (Zizaniopsis miliacea), cattail (Typha spp.), three-square (Scirpus spp.), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), tupelo (Nyssa aquatica), dock (Rumex spp.), yellow pond lily (Nuphar sp.), marsh fleabane (Pluchea purpurascens), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), marsh hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos), beggar's tick (Bidens sp.), smartweed (Polygonum sp.), arrowhead (Sagittaria spp.), sweet flag (Acorus calamus), water hemp (Amaranthus cannabinus), reed grass (Phragmites communis), or switch grass (Panicum virgatum).

"Vegetated wetlands of Back Bay and its tributaries" or "vegetated wetlands of the North Landing River and its tributaries" means all marshes subject to flooding by normal and wind tides, but not hurricane or tropical storm tides, and upon which is growing any of the following species: saltmarsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), saltmeadow hay (Spartina patens), black needlerush (Juncus roemerianus), marsh elder (Iva frutescens), groundsel bush (Baccharis halimifolia), wax myrtle (Myrica sp.), arrow arum (Peltandra virginica), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), big cordgrass (Spartina cynosuroides), rice cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides), wildrice (Zizania aquatica), bulrush (Scirpus validus), spikerush (Eleocharis sp.), cattail (Typha spp.), three-square (Scirpus spp.), dock (Rumex sp.), smartweed (Polygonum sp.), yellow pond lily (Nuphar sp.), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), marsh hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos), beggar's tick (Bidens sp.), arrowhead (Sagittaria sp.), water hemp (Amaranthus cannabinus), reed grass (Phragmites communis), or switch grass (Panicum virgatum).

"Wetlands" means both vegetated and nonvegetated wetlands.

"Wetlands board" or "board" means a board created pursuant to § 28.2-1303.

"Wetlands zoning ordinance" means the ordinance set forth in § 28.2-1302.

1972, c. 711, § 62.1-13.2; 1973, c. 388; 1974, c. 297; 1975, c. 268; 1979, c. 524; 1982, c. 300; 1992, c. 836.

§ 28.2-1301. Powers and duties of the Commission.

A. The Commission may receive gifts, grants, bequests, and devises of wetlands and money which shall be held for the uses prescribed by the donor, grantor, or testator and in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. The Commission shall manage any wetlands it receives so as to maximize their ecological value as provided in Article 2 (§ 28.2-1503 et seq.) of Chapter 15 of this title.

B. The Commission shall preserve and prevent the despoliation and destruction of wetlands while accommodating necessary economic development in a manner consistent with wetlands preservation and any standards set by the Commonwealth in addition to those identified in § 28.2-1308 to ensure protection of shorelines and sensitive coastal habitats from sea level rise and coastal hazards, including guidelines and minimum standards promulgated by the Commission pursuant to subsection C.

C. In order to perform its duties under this section and to assist counties, cities, and towns in regulating wetlands, the Commission shall promulgate and periodically update (i) guidelines that scientifically evaluate vegetated and nonvegetated wetlands by type and describe the consequences of use of these wetlands types and (ii) minimum standards for protection and conservation of wetlands. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science shall provide advice and assistance to the Commission in developing these guidelines and minimum standards by evaluating wetlands by type and continuously maintaining and updating an inventory of vegetated wetlands.

D. In developing guidelines, standards, or regulations under this chapter the Commission shall consult with all affected state agencies. Consistent with other legal rights, consideration shall be given to the unique character of the Commonwealth's tidal wetlands which are essential for the production of marine and inland wildlife, waterfowl, finfish, shellfish and flora; serve as a valuable protective barrier against floods, tidal storms and the erosion of the Commonwealth's shores and soil; are important for the absorption of silt and pollutants; and are important for recreational and aesthetic enjoyment of the people and for the promotion of tourism, navigation and commerce.

1972, c. 711, §§ 62.1-13.1, 62.1-13.4, 62.1-13.17; 1982, c. 300; 1990, c. 811; 1992, c. 836; 1995, c. 850; 2020, c. 809.