Tidal Wetlands

Tidal Wetlands

There are approximately 1,337 acres of tidal wetlands in Stafford County. The tidal wetlands serve as spawning and nursery grounds for a variety of fish and crabs. Thirty percent of rare and endangered species at some point in their life cycle depend on tidal wetlands. Tidal wetlands also remove sediments and impurities from the water, diminish flood waters, and protect the shoreline from erosion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides additional information on the value of wetlands.

Wetlands Board

The Wetlands Board currently consists of five members who are appointed by the Board of Supervisors. A wetlands permit must be acquired from the Wetlands Board in order to use or develop tidal wetlands or beaches. Typical examples of activities and projects requiring a permit include the repair or installation of bulkheads, riprap revetments, and community or commercial piers. Noncommercial piers and boathouses may require a permit from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, a building permit from the Department of Public Works is required for bulkheads, piers, and boathouses.

The first step in obtaining a wetlands permit is to submit a Joint Permit Application (JPA) to the VMRC. VMRC acts as a clearinghouse and sends the permit application to other interested jurisdictions, including the Wetlands Board. Environmental planners within the Department of Planning and Zoning serve as staff to the Wetlands Board. Once the application is considered complete by staff, the project will be scheduled for a hearing before the Wetlands Board.

The fee for scheduling a hearing is $675. In addition, to assist in the goal of no net loss of tidal wetlands in Virginia, an in-lieu fee is assessed per square foot of wetlands impact. To promote the use of shoreline protection methods considered less disruptive to the environment, the fee is currently set at $8.75 for riprap revetments and $17.50 for bulkheads.