Agency Strategic Plan
4/24/2014   12:17 pm
Department of Conservation & Recreation (199)
Biennium:
Mission and Vision

Mission Statement
The Department of Conservation and Recreation works with Virginians to conserve, protect, and enhance their lands and improve the quality of the Chesapeake Bay and our rivers and streams, promotes the stewardship and enjoyment of natural, cultural and outdoor recreational resources, and ensures the safety of Virginia's dams.
Vision Statement
The Department of Conservation and Recreation, with the cooperation of our partners and customers, is a leader in:
• providing tangible and lasting improvements to the quality of Virginia's resource lands and waters and the many species which they support;
• serving as trusted stewards of the outdoor natural and recreational resources placed under our care ;
• promoting the conservation and enjoyment of Virginia's diverse and unique environment and rich cultural legacy for future generation;
• protecting the public's safety through our regulatory programs and conservation law enforcement efforts; and
• recognizing the value of our dedicated and committed workforce.
Executive Progress Report

Service Performance and Productivity
  • Summary of current service performance
    The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has significantly expanded and strengthened its stewardship programs and statutory responsibilities on behalf of the Commonwealth over the past few years. This section will summarize the progress made in each of the Service Areas.

    Service Area 1 - Statewide Agricultural and Urban Nonpoint Source Water Quality Improvements

    Since 2004, DCR has carried the Governor’s and legislative initiative to consolidate the state’s stormwater programs within DCR. Under DCR, stormwater management now addresses water quality and quantity on all regulated land disturbing activities statewide. Program implementation of the stormwater construction and MS4 permitting programs began in January 2005. DCR issued 2,513 general permits for construction activity in FY2008 and 2,126 in FY2009. Since December 2005, the Department on behalf of the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board has worked to modify the state’s stormwater regulations by developing minimum criteria for a local stormwater management program and construction general permit coverage authorization procedures and amending program fees. A new general construction permit was authorized in June 2009 and amended stormwater regulations went through an extensive public comment period ending August 21, 2009. They will go to the Board of Soil and Water Conservation for final adoption October 6, 2009. The Department remains actively engaged in updating the Stormwater Management Handbook and developing a BMP Clearinghouse website. Addressing stormwater management is one of the primary initiatives to restoring the Chesapeake Bay and impaired waters.

    DCR has worked with the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board to modify and strengthen its local government Erosion & Sediment Control Program compliance review processes. A schedule has been established so that all local programs will be reviewed in a 5-year period. Currently, all 166 local programs have been reviewed with 90% of the localities rated as being consistent with the Erosion and Sediment Control Law. This is a substantial increase from five years before.

    The Department is also implementing in conjunction with private and public partners, five cost effective agricultural priority conservation practices that, when fully implemented, will achieve 60% of the nonpoint source nutrient reduction goal to the Bay and its tributaries. DCR has reduced nutrient pollution by providing state cost-share funds to 3,546 farmers and landowners for implementation of 11,047 Agricultural Best Management Practices. Support has come from federal agencies, the agricultural and conservation communities and our partners in Virginia’s 47 local Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

    More than one million acres of Virginia's agricultural lands have had nutrient management plans developed since the inception of the nutrient management program in 1989. Nutrient management plans are important to addressing the proper rate, timing and application of fertilizers and manure to pastures and cropland. Substantial funding for this program has come from the federal Clean Water Act, Section 319, and EPA Chesapeake Bay grants to Virginia's nutrient management program.

    Recently Virginia added $2.25 million dollars to its commitment to the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, which supports the establishment of water quality buffers along streams. These additional funds will bring between three and four times this amount of federal monies to the Southside and southwest regions of this state. Under the new Farm Bill, Virginia is expected to receive additional monies for BMPs in both the Southern Rivers and Bay watersheds.

    Service Area 2 - Dam Inventory, Evaluation and Classification and Flood Plain Management

    During FY2008 and FY2009 Dam Safety staff visited 126 dams listed as high hazard that had not been brought into the certification process as a result of legislative changes that lowered the size of dams to be regulated by the Commonwealth, plus brought in 45 new dams, for a total of 637 dams under regulation. The ongoing inventorying of dams on a county basis by part-time professional engineers has identified an additional 500 dams for staff to evaluate and bring into the certification process. Staff is currently concentrating on keeping dam owners that have certified dams compliant and transition them to comply with the new Impounding Structure Regulations adopted on September 26, 2008.

    On September 26, 2008. the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board adopted new Impounding Structure (Dam Safety) Regulations for the first time in nearly 20 years. Dam Safety staff is in the process of developing program operating procedures and an information outreach program to increase awareness by dam owners, consulting engineers, contractors and the citizens about the Dam Safety Program.

    Of the 325 communities in the Commonwealth, 280 participate in the National Flood Insurance Program which requires them to comply with the Federal Emergency Management Agency Floodplain Management Regulations. DCR Floodplain staff has revised the Agency’s model Floodplain Ordinance to comply with FEMA standards for use in their work with local communities.

    Dam Break Inundation Zone Mapping legislation was enacted by the 2008 General Assembly effective July 1, 2009. This legislation improves local planning requirements associated with development within dam break inundation zones, increases associated public notification requirements, and requires developers to assist a dam owner(s) with required spillway upgrade costs if a downstream development causes an owner to upgrade their spillway to remain in compliance with the Virginia Dam Safety Act and attendant regulations.

    Service Area 3 - Natural Heritage Preservation and Management

    As of August 2009, the Natural Area Preserve System has grown significantly with seven new preserves and 21 individual tracts totaling 6.646 acres added in the last two years. The Commonwealth’s Natural Area Preserve System as of August 2009 totals 59 preserves and 49,391 acres, supporting 356 different rare species and exemplary natural communities. The 2006 Virginia Outdoors Survey found that the 5th most popular activity was “visiting natural areas”, up from 11th in 2001. Two landmark natural area preserve conservation projects include Crow’s Nest in Stafford County, and Cypress Bridge Swamp in Southampton County. Efforts have been underway by various entities for over 20 years to protect Crow’s Nest. DCR, in cooperation with Stafford County, has protected nearly 3,000 acres of this highly significant peninsula.. In March 2009, DCR acquired and dedicated as the Cypress Bridge Swamp Natural Area Preserve 380 acres in Southampton County. This Preserve contains 40 acres of old-growth bald cypress – water tupelo swamp forest and a remarkable collection of trees. DCR is working with limited staff and resources to make its premier natural areas more accessible to the public for appropriate outdoor recreation purposes.

    Since January 2008, DCR Natural Heritage scientists have discovered three animal species that are new to science. Additionally, a plant species and 44 animal species were discovered that have not been previously found in Virginia. DCR biologists discovered or updated 49 records for globally rare species. Since 1986, Natural Heritage scientists have discovered 28 species new to science and discovered 264 species never previously documented in Virginia.

    Delivering quality land conservation information is critical to carrying out a cost effective land conservation program. DCR Natural Heritage staff have developed multiple valuable land conservation targeting and planning tools including the Natural Heritage natural community and rare species data set developed over the past 23 years, the VA Conservation Lands Needs Assessment seen as a national green infrastructure model, and new delivery tools such as Land Conservation Data Explorer, Natural Heritage Data Explorer. In 2009, Virginia joined five other states, NatureServe and National Geographic Society to develop and launch a state of the art online resource for the land-protection community and the public.

    Invasive species cost Virginia between $ 1 and $3 billion annually. Invasive species management efforts continue on multiple fronts. For example, DCR Natural Heritage scientists have mapped a total of 4,089 acres of the invasive wetland grass Phragmites in recent years. This past year 3,170 acre of Phragmites were treated on high priority wetland habitats and protected lands. Longleaf pine once dominated southeastern Virginia. It is now contained to a few very small remnant patches. DCR Natural Heritage scientists in cooperation with the VA Department of Forestry are working to restore this valuable timber resource and critical natural ecosystem. Recently, reforestation of longleaf pine was completed on 45 acres at Chub Sandhill Natural Area Preserve in Sussex County representing the largest native longleaf pine planting in Virginia. This work was accomplished in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Forestry and funded through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

    DCR has furthered water quality protection in Virginia’s 27 localities with karst terrain by providing valuable technical assistance. Virginia contains more than 4,100 documented caves that provide 75% of the drinking water supply to 27 counties in western Virginia. These same karst systems support 110 globally imperiled species. DCR works with landowners, local, state and federal agencies and land managers to better manage and conserve resources thereby protecting peoples drinking water, and a significant percentage of the region’s globally rare biodiversity.

    Service Area 4 - Financial Assistance to Soil and Water Conservation Districts

    DCR establishes annual contractual agreements with each of the state’s 47 Soil and Water Conservation Districts to better define state expectations with district delivery of Virginia’s Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMP) Cost-Share Program. Each agreement contains a scope of services which lists expected actions by districts as they locally recruit farmer participants and target BMPs that will address the greatest nonpoint source pollution problems. Further refinement of performance expectations is planned through annual agreements in the coming years. The Department is working with the districts and stakeholders in the development of a new Agricultural BMP cost-share tracking program. The first phase of the work has been completed with a pilot testing period underway. Phase 2 is to begin in early 2010. Money for this important initiative has been allocated from the Water Quality Improvement Fund interest.

    Service Area 5 - Technical and Financial Assistance for Land Management

    As part of its role as lead nonpoint source pollution agency, DCR is responsible for the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and the related regulations. The regulations require that localities that are in the 84 counties, cities and towns east of the river fall lines (generally east of I-95) incorporate water quality protection measures to reduce the impact from land use activities on the water quality of the Bay and tidal rivers into their zoning ordinances, subdivision ordinances, and comprehensive plans.

    Recently, DCR has significantly enhanced local compliance with the Bay Act Regulations through an evaluation process to determine how well localities are implementing the Bay Act. As of June 15, 2009, DCR staff have completed, and presented to the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board, compliance evaluations for 83 of the 84 Bay Act localities. Of that number, 68 have been found fully compliant with the Bay Act requirements and performance criteria. One locality has been found “noncompliant,” and 14 localities are currently addressing compliance conditions. By the end of calendar year 2009, the Department anticipates that 79 localities will be deemed fully compliant.

    Service Area 6 - Preservation of Open Space Lands

    DCR has a lead role in the Commonwealth’s efforts to conserve lands. Steady progress has been made towards the Commonwealth’s land conservation goals, due in part to the allocation from the General Assembly and Governor to the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) of funding in FY2009 –FY2010 enabling grant rounds to award funds to conservation partners for the purchase and preservation of working farms and forests and important conservation lands. DCR serves as the lead staff agency for the VLCF. Since first receiving funding in FY2000, the Foundation has received 189 applications requesting approximately $87.4 million in state funding. In total, the Foundation has leveraged matching grants for more than $32 million to projects that will protect an estimated 40,492 acres statewide.

    The Department’s Office of Land Conservation serves as a liaison to Virginia's land trusts and conservation organizations, providing them with assistance regarding grant opportunities and land conservation tools, tax credit information, and serving as a statewide clearinghouse for land conservation information. Since 2007, the Office has been the lead organizer for the first annual conference of land trusts in Virginia, the most recent of which was in June 2009.

    Over the past two years, the Department has increasingly received requests to hold open-space easements related to significant outdoor recreation lands. As a result, DCR is a co-holder, with the Capital Region Land Conservancy and the Richmond Recreation and Parks Foundation, of a 280-acre easement on the City of Richmond’s James River Park, the City’s main outdoor recreational area.

    The Department’s land conservation staff are also charged by statute to provide oversight of the state Land Preservation Tax Credit applications where a tax credit of $ 1 million or more has been requested and provides assistance with reporting on the Land Preservation Tax Credit program as required by Virginia Code § 58.1-512. The Department reviews the tax credit applications to ensure the legitimate conservation value of the properties and to determine if the requisite water quality and forest stewardship criteria are met. In carrying out its responsibilities, DCR responds to inquiries from land trusts, potential applicants, tax credit facilitators, lawyers, and CPAs, about the Land Preservation Tax Credit program. In addition the position interacts with applicants during the pre-application process, site visit, and application process. In 2007-2008 the Department reviewed 62 pre-filing and final applications and certified the conservation value to the Department of Taxation.

    Service Area 7 - Financial Assistance for Recreational Development

    From 2008 through 2009, DCR has administered the award of 10 Virginia Recreational Trails Program Grants totaling $1,199,191 and 1 Outdoor Recreation Development Grant (federal Land & Water Conservation Fund Grants) totaling $541,551. Combined with previous grants, DCR has assisted over 140 local communities meet much needed outdoor recreational opportunities. In June 2009, Virginia received an apportionment notice in the amount of $597,284, which will be allocated between state and local projects. The future of federal funding for these grants is uncertain.

    The source of funding for the Recreational Trails Program is the federal Safe Accountable Transportation Equity Act- A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). That Act expires at the end of August 2009 but is anticipated to be reauthorized until Congress passes a new Transportation Act. The re-authorization of SAFETEA-LU should include funding to the states for continuation of the Recreational Trails Program.

    Service Area 8 - Design and Construction of Outdoor Recreational Facilities

    Funding from the 2002 State Parks and Natural Area General Obligation Bond has provided over 100 construction projects at Virginia’s state parks. These projects, in various stages of completion, represent the full spectrum of recreational facilities including construction of revenue generating facilities such as cabins and campgrounds, addressing health and safety repairs, and providing greater offerings and improvements at state parks purchased since the previous 1992 bond referendum. Three additional parks now have projects under construction which will provide new cabin complexes and campgrounds expected to open in 2010 (Natural Tunnel, Shenandoah/Andy Guest, and Douthat State Parks). Also, the first two equestrian facilities (Occoneechee and Pocahontas State Parks) in the bond package have been completed with one under construction (James River State Park) and two more going to bid this fall (Staunton River and Douthat State Parks).

    DCR is committed to using "green building" techniques and currently has five new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designed Visitor Centers under construction (Sailors Creek, Westmoreland, Andy Guest, Smith Mountain Lake and James River State Parks).with one (First Landing) ready to go out for bid. Also, DCR’s design and construction staff are currently managing over 30 active construction projects throughout the state, making the next two years the most intensive construction period ever. In addition, staff are also managing the implementation of a $20 million VPBA bond for developing the flood inundation studies for over 80 local soil and water conservation districts and state park owned dams across the state. This funding will also be used to start the rehabilitation process on some of the dams to bring them into compliance with state dam safety requirements.

    In order to meet the Bureau of Capital Outlay Management’s requirements for permitting small state park construction projects, DCR staff have been approved to issue building permits under the annual permit authority program. In this first year, the Department’s Planning and Recreation Resources staff have handled and permitted approximately 20 small construction projects at state parks, adding to the demands on the agency’s workload.

    Service Area 9 - State Park Management and Operations

    The citizens of Virginia support and appreciate their state parks as evidenced by their growing usage of parks and their satisfaction with park services. In 2008, park visitation was over 7.2 Million, representing both the second highest in history and a slight 3% decrease over the previous year. Most of the decrease in visitation seems to have been caused by the extremely high cost of gasoline during the summer of 2008, which affected day visits to parks while overnight attendance actually increased slightly. Year-to-date figures as of summer of 2009 show that visitation has rebounded very well from the decreases experienced during the summer of 2008.

    In 2008, DCR opened a portion of the 35th state park, High Bridge Trail State Park. High Bridge is a rail-to-trail conversion in central Virginia area and includes a significant civil war site along the trail. DCR has also begun work on developing a new park in Powhatan County along the James River. The Agency also has land acquired for four other future parks that will eventually require staff and operational funding in order to open them to the public.

    Since 1997, a customer survey of state park visitors has been conducted each year, and the results show a very high level of satisfaction. For FY2008, customers responded to 89.5% of the survey questions with “good” or “excellent”.

    In 2008, a total of 15,538 park interpretive programs were offered, with program attendance of 306,454. Environmental education programs for 1,909 school groups where given to a total of 15,373 students during 2008.

    State parks implemented a Youth Corps program to provide youth an opportunity to accomplish needed natural resource projects in parks. The program consists of the Youth Conservation Corps, a three-week residential program for high school students with an interest in the environment and stewardship, and the Youth Service Corps, a three-week day program targeted to at-risk youth. In its first seven years, approximately 1,350 youths and 261 Crew Supervisors have participated in the program. This equates to 289,527 volunteer hours and translates to $4.5 million or 142 FTE. Nearly all parks have participated in the program at lease twice as of 2009.

    Overall, volunteerism contributes significantly to the continued operation of our State Parks. We have 5,000 active volunteers contributing more than 295,000 hours a year, worth $4.7 million.

    Service Area 10 - Natural Outdoor Recreational and Open Space Resource Research, Planning, and Technical Assistance

    DCR staff have been actively working with stakeholders throughout Virginia to advance the recommendations in the 2007 Virginia Outdoors Plan, the state’s comprehensive outdoor recreation plan. Progress has been made in expanding trails, blueways, and greenways programs, expanding the number of scenic rivers and scenic byways and in advancing the understanding of green infrastructure planning concepts.

    In 2009 DCR’s Trails and Greenways Task Force completed a strategic plan for the development of the six statewide “trunkline” trails. The Department has been actively involved in developing blueways on the rivers in Southern Virginia to include the Meherrin, Dan, Bannister, Mayo, Staunton, and Nottoway Rivers.
    DCR has been coordinating with government officials and local trail enthusiasts to explore the feasibility of a motorized trail system under the management of the Southwestern Virginia Recreation Authority. Additionally, DCR, Roanoke River Rails to Trails, Norfolk Southern, local governments, and other stakeholders are cooperatively working on the development of the 112-mile trail along the length of the Virginian Railroad corridor. This is part of the Beaches to Bluegrass Trail that is being developed to run along the southern edge of Virginia from Virginia Beach to Cumberland Gap.

    As part of the Scenic Byways Program, between July 2007 and June 2009, the Department has studied potential scenic byways across the state resulting in 67 miles of roads being officially designated.

    DCR’s Division of Planning and Recreation Resources has completed State Park Master Plans for the 35 existing state parks and for three of the four future parks for which land has been acquired (Widewater, Powhatan and Seven Bends). Additionally, DCR has completed the required 5-year review of the master plans for eight state parks and is currently conducting updates for 11 additional state parks.

    The Department has also played a lead role in Virginia in helping to advance the Captain John Smith National Water Trail and the National Park Service’s Chesapeake Bay Gateways Program. The Department has recently entered into an agreement with the National Park Service to employ a full-time staff person, primarily supported by federal grant funds, to work on the Chesapeake Bay Gateway Network program in Virginia and to develop the Rappahannock River section of the Captain John Smith Trail in Virginia, which will be the third such land and water trail guide in the Commonwealth (James and York Rivers).

    The Department has also been very engaged with the state's Scenic Rivers Program, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2010. Following a study finding and recommendation from DCR, the General Assembly passed and the Governor signed a bill to extend the Rivanna Scenic River in Charlottesville and Albemarle County by 9 miles in 2009. In 2009, scenic river studies have been completed on the Hughes (12 miles), Blackwater (56 miles), Jordan (6 miles) and Russell Fork Rivers (9 miles). These river sections await legislative action before they can be officially designated.

    Service Area 11 - Administrative and Support Services

    The Agency's board infrastructure continues to improve with the reorganization and the merger and elimination of a number of boards. DCR has improved communication among the Board members and increased awareness of the importance of their roles in furthering the Commonwealth's goals and the Department's programs.

    The Department continues to maintain an excellent prompt payment compliance percentage that has exceeded 98% for the last five fiscal years.

    DCR has been highly successful in complying with administrative initiatives, including electronic travel reimbursement (REDI), enrolling in Payline, and fully engaging in Reportline (transitioning from paper reports to electronic reports).
  • Summary of current productivity
    Productivity remains high; DCR has been charged with significantly more responsibility over the past several years with few new staff provided. Recent budget reductions have resulted in significant budget reductions, programmatic contractions and layoffs of full-time employees and wage staff that have affected all parts of the agency.

    Non-profits and citizens groups are becoming increasingly involved in volunteer activities in cleaning up streams and rivers and assisting within our state park system, natural area preserves and with water quality improvement programs. Volunteers increase the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the Agency.

    While state parks clearly contribute to the quality of life for Virginians, there are proven economic benefits provided by the parks as well. Annually, state park visitors contribute approximately $169 million to local economies as well as revenue to the State Park System. By combining the effect of park visitation with operations and construction, the Virginia State Park System contributed an estimated $182 million in sales and 2,800 jobs in FY08. While park visitation dropped slightly in 2008 due to high gasoline prices, the 2009 numbers have rebounded very nicely.

    DCR's Natural Heritage Program staff respond to thousands of requests each year for information on rare plant and animal species and natural communities to be used in public and private sector land conservation and land planning decisions, 27% or approximately 900 per year related to transportation projects. LandScope America and Natural Heritage Data Explorer, new Internet land conservation tools and mapping services have been developed and deployed to allow land trusts, consulting firms, local, state, and federal agencies and others to view site specific natural heritage information, make informed decisions with this information, and to develop their own online and printable maps. Several agencies now screen their permits through DCR’s Natural Heritage Data Explorer, greatly expediting the review process, saving staff time and effort.

    DCR’s Land Conservation Needs Assessment is a national model for mapping open space land conservation values, providing conservation information tools for land trusts, local governments and others to make informed, cost effective, targeted land conservation decisions, and providing this information via latest internet mapping technology. The Environmental Protection Agency views Virginia’s efforts as a model, and is in discussion with DCR on how to help VA update the mapping work, and carry VA’s efforts to the other Chesapeake Bay states.

    DCR has made significant advancements in protecting the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia's waterways through the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, Nutrient Management regulations, stormwater laws, erosion and sediment control laws, and the TMDL plans. The newly streamlined and consolidated state stormwater management program is being currently administered by DCR largely through permit fees that fund the program. DCR will eventually split those fees with localities which are approved by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board to administer a qualifying local program under the Stormwater Management Act and regulations. DCR has also been encouraging private sector involvement in delivery of programs, whenever possible, in order to lessen the need for state supported positions.

    For fiscal year 2009, DCR has continued to assist localities with Bay Act implementation by providing 77 technical assistance site visits, by reviewing 73 site plans for new development projects, reviewing and responding to 328 Environmental Impact Reports, and by offering 6 training seminars and workshops on the technical components of the Bay Act and on water quality based land use planning.

    The Department has also continued to provide limited grant funds and technical assistance to localities to implement the septic pump out programs to protect water quality goals and the identification of nontidal wetlands and perennial streams. Through a combination of the compliance evaluations, distribution of grant funds, and technical assistance provided by staff, 70 of the 84 localities now have septic tank pump out programs that are compliant with the Bay Preservation Act Regulations. Further, 62 localities have compliant stormwater Best Management Program maintenance and inspection programs to achieve the Bay Act’s no net increase in phosphorous requirement.
Initiatives, Rankings and Customer Trends
  • Summary of Major Initiatives and Related Progress
    DCR has a number of initiatives underway to protect and improve the Commonwealth's natural resources and outdoor recreation, to protect public safety, and to better serve the Department's constituencies. Initiatives and related progress include:

    The Department continues to work with the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board to improve Virginia's stormwater management program. The development of new regulations has proceeded over the past three and a half years and involved one of the most extensive public input processes ever used in the Commonwealth. Over 50 public meeting including design charrettes were held, two technical advisory committees engaged, a new Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook developed, and a BMP Clearinghouse created. The proposed stormwater management regulations, which were subject to five public hearings and a comment period during the summer of 2009, are being revised based upon public input and will go before the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board in the Fall of 2009.

    DCR has initiated the third phase of Bay Act, which involves incorporation of water quality measures into local land use ordinances. In June 2009, the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board authorized DCR staff to proceed with a Code and Ordinance Advisory review process of the ordinances of all 84 localities within the area covered by the Bay Act. It is anticipated that such reviews will begin in September 2009. As part of this initiative, the Department has also begun to provide general land planning assistance to Bay Act localities as well as localities outside of the Bay Act area.

    Land conservation has been a major initiative of the agency. State bond proceeds are being utilized to purchase new state parks and natural area preserves, such as Crow's Nest. This coupled with legislative initiatives to transfer land to the Department has resulted in new park properties at Powhatan, Widewater, Seven Bends, High Bridge, and the Middle Peninsula. Similarly in the past two years, new Natural Area Preserves have been added at the Channels, Washington County; Crow’s Nest, Stafford County; Fletcher Ford, Lee County; South Quay Sandhills, Southampton County, Cypress Bridge Swamp, Southampton County; Sweet Spring, Montgomery County, and Crawford Knob, Nelson County. Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve totaling nearly 2,800 acres, has been a conservation target for some 20 years, and represents one of Virginia’s finest land conservation success stories.

    The Department has also been providing lead staff support to the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation. DCR’s Natural Heritage Program has made significant progress developing and providing land conservation information. In addition to the program’s strength in developing and providing sensitive natural area conservation information, the Virginia Conservation Lands Needs Assessment (VCLNA) is a widely used tool which models and maps open space land conservation values and combined with the mapped information on conserved lands allows for increased targeting and efficient use of precious land conservation dollars. The EPA views Virginia’s efforts as a national model and is currently working to assist DCR with updating the current mapping effort, and duplicating Virginia’s efforts in other Chesapeake Bay states. The Natural Heritage Program recently helped launch LandScope America, a six state pilot effort with NatureServe and the National Geographic Society.

    The Office of Land Conservation has been tasked with the responsibility of reviewing all Land Preservation Tax Credit applications that claim a tax credit of $1 million or more. The purpose of this review is to enable the Director to verify the conservation value of the donations of real property interest for which a Land Preservation Tax Credit of $1 million or more is claimed, pursuant to Virginia Code § 58.1-512. The Virginia Land Conservation Foundation has established criteria by which the application are to be analyzed and in compliance with these criteria the Department has established guidelines and procedures to be followed when evaluating the applications. The Department has also established a database to assist in tracking and reporting all Land Preservation Tax Credit applications as required by statute.

    DCR is expanding its use of technology to facilitate the delivery of services. A stormwater enterprise website is under the first phase of development through the Virginia.gov portion of the Virginia Information Technology group. Phase 1 completion is expected in the Spring of 2010. The Agency is also pursuing the development of a simplified on-line version of nutrient management plans that could be accessed by farmers for certain agricultural lands.

    Participation in the Federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is voluntary for Virginia’s communities. Once a community makes application to participate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires that the community adopt by ordinance FEMA’s floodplain maps. Floodplain staff works with each community to ensure the adoption of a compliant floodplain ordinance so the community will be able to continue participation in the NFIP.

    DCR served as the state lead in working extensively with DEQ and the U.S. Department of Defense to develop what turned out to be a comprehensive first-of-its-kind in the nation program where military installations and bases across Virginia will voluntarily complete a scorecard of environmental actions occurring on their properties. These scorecards, to be reviewed by DCR and DEQ, allow each installation to compete for an annual Commonwealth of VA - DoD Eagle Award, the first of which will be handed out by the Governor later this year. The scorecard information should also improve the defense installations contributions to the Bay restoration and land conservation goals.

    In a matter of public safety, DCR and the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board have together enhanced Virginia’s Dam Safety Program and revised and revamped the state’s 20 year old dam safety regulations. Several additional improvements to the Dam Safety Program have been made over the past few years that taken together have moved Virginia from among the bottom five states to one of the top dam safety programs in the nation.
  • Summary of Virginia's Ranking
    DCR has received awards and recognitions in a number of areas. Recent recognitions include the following:

    The 2007 Virginia Outdoors Plan was recognized as the one of the best plans in the country by the National Park Service in 2009 and is currently used by them as a model for other states.

    Virginia's state parks were rated among the nation's finest in the 2009 ReserveAmerica Top 100 Family Campgrounds and Outdoor Awards. Virginia’s parks garnered 82 awards. For a complete list, see http://twitdoc.com/c/6ka6vw.

    Recognized for its leadership in development and delivery of land conservation information, DCR’s Natural Heritage Program was selected as one of six U.S. states to develop the recently launched LandScope America on-line land conservation mapping and resource center with NatureServe and the National Geographic Society.
    DCR’s oversight of the state land preservation tax credit program has recently been cited by national experts as one of the finest efforts in the country. The Department’s newly revised dam safety regulatory program has received similar acclaim.
  • Summary of Customer Trends and Coverage
    DCR anticipates some changes to its customer base due to program expansion and growing citizen awareness and interest. Changes may include:

    Increased citizen, farmer, local governments, and other stakeholders involvement in Chesapeake Bay and Southern River restoration activities through development and participation in Chesapeake Bay and local TMDL implementation plannng and other water quality initiatives.

    Increased involvement with localities and members of the consulting and construction industry that require land disturbing permits under the Department's expanded stormwater program.

    Increased demand from private citizens, organizations, and agencies for technical expertise in managing invasive species issues.

    Increased demands for instant access to accurate and comprehensive land conservation information and for on-the-ground consultations from the rapidly expanding local land trust community, land conservation organizations, local, state, and federal governments, and the general public.

    Increased demand for service from applicants to the Land Preservation Tax Credit program. From 2007-2008, the Department saw a 100% increase (from 20 in 2007 to 40 in 2008) in the number of applicants seeking a pre-filing review of their application.

    Increased demand statewide for conveniently located outdoor recreational opportunities will result in increased demand for fiscal and technical support for parks, greenways, blueways, and trail development.

    Increased usage of the Virginia State Park System and the Commonwealth’s Natural Area Preserve System will create increased demands for public access, facilities, programs, and operational support. The 2006 Virginia Outdoors Survey found that the 5th most popular activity was “visiting natural areas”, up from 11th in 2001. DCR has an expanding number of closed and or not yet staffed natural area preserves and lands acquired for future state parks that citizens are anxious to have opened, or are trespassing on and causing destruction to resources because staff are not present there.

    High expected development pressure in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed will increase the need for technical assistance to localities (particularly rural ones) to assist with compliance of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, revised Stormwater Management regulations, and Bay TMDL implementation requirements.

    Regulatory changes to the stormwater management construction regulations and to the MS4 general permit will result in the need for increased education and assistance to localities associated with program development and to developers and project engineers regarding changes in technical criteria and procedures.

    Legislative and program changes have impacted the 637 dams under regulation along with the possibility of perhaps over 2,000 additional dams, private and public dam owners, which require additional assistance and regulatory oversight from DCR Dam Safety staff.

    Severe weather events require commitment of state and FEMA staff, reducing the availability of assistance.
    The economic downturn that became acute in 2008-9 showed that state parks are subject to some of the influences that affect other businesses and visitor destinations, especially relating to gasoline prices. However, Virginia state park overnight visitation has continued to grow despite the negative economic climate, and visitation in the summer of 2009 shows that citizens are turning to their park system as a source of affordable recreation. Customer surveys show that visitors are traveling shorter distances for most outdoor activities, a trend that suggests that Virginia’s state parks due to our proximity to large east coast population centers, will continue to have high demands placed on the system. Paradoxically, the agency is receiving cuts in park general funding at the same time that visitation is increasing.

    In 2009 Virginia State Park embraced social media as a way of reaching new customers and to offer customers a public forum. The State Park e-newsletter now has 10,000 opt-in subscribers and a newly added blog has 10 to 20 weekly posts, a Twitter accounts, as well as a presence on Facebook and My Space. Statistics show that three-fourths of Americans use social media and 85% of these users believe that businesses and government should interact with its customers. These social media outlets have provided a way to expose more people to our parks, facilities and programming. Virginia State Park’s Twitter account is recognized in the top 50 in Virginia.
Future Direction, Expectations, and Priorities
  • Summary of Future Direction and Expectations
    With Virginia's population continuing to grow, pressures on the Commonwealth's natural resources will increase, and expectations from the public for recreational opportunities, clean waters, land protection, preservation of our heritage resources, and protection of life and property will continue to expand.
    The Chesapeake Bay TMDL is due to the Environmental Protection Agency in May 2011. Virginia, along with other Bay states, will be developing scenarios for pollutant loading reductions allocated to the Commonwealth by the EPA led-Bay Program. A significant outreach effort to localities and other stakeholders is expected in order to gather input on the best way to implement these necessary pollutant reduction practices. DCR and DEQ are working together to develop the TMDL plan. Related two-year Bay milestones will also drive new and expanded initiatives to help achieve overall Chesapeake Bay restoration by 2025. The first milestone deadline is December 2011. EPA is expected to announce during 2009 the consequences if states do not meet their milestones.

    Recent indications are that Virginia state park visitation will continue to grow despite the negative economic climate. Demand for state park offerings and programs are likely to increase along with public desire to see new parks developed and opened.

    To provide assistance to localities in a more consolidated and efficient manner, DCR staff recently initiated the DCR Local Assistance Network (DCR LAN). The LAN is made up of a team of those staff within the Department that provide assistance to localities in some manner. The ultimate product and output of the LAN is currently under development but will likely include web based tool boxes, links and other resources that will assist localities with incorporating the protection of natural resources and water quality into local land use planning and other activities.

    DCR is completing the initial cycle of evaluations to determine local government compliance with the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and the state Erosion and Sediment Control Programs. Both sets of evaluations are to be conducted every five years. Accordingly, the Department is in the process of refining and enhancing the compliance review components and processes of each of the evaluation processes. It is expected that the second cycle of compliance evaluations will begin in FY 2010.

    The increasing size of the Natural Area Preserve System will increase demand on existing staff for biological resource management as well as law enforcement and operational issues. Management complexity will increase, including more required oversight of easements and Natural Area Preserve System boundaries, the need for increased public access, and the understanding of natural heritage protection activities. As part of its role, DCR will continue to provide and improve the use of land conservation mapping tools and serve as a key participant in the statewide Invasive Species Working Group.

    Climate change will potentially bring challenges and impacts to various aspects of DCR’s operations including impacts on natural heritage resources, water quality and dam safety programs, and stewardship of State Park lands and Natural Area Preserves.
  • Summary of Potential Impediments to Achievement
    Limitations on staffing and funding have affected agency operations and programs in state parks, natural heritage, dam safety, park design and construction, and soil and water conservation. Budget reduction strategies including staff layoffs have resulted in declining non-personnel operating budgets and a reduction in the Department's ability to fully address several aspects of the agency’s core conservation mission. In addition, numerous staff have been moved to non-general funded positions, mainly federal grants, that could be affected if the federal funds are substantially reduced in the future.

    An independent management consulting firm has recently completed a multi-year study of the Department's salary structure. Overall, the study found that there is salary compression within the agency that needs addressing once resources are available. In addition, the study found that there is evidence that many of DCR’s employees are being paid below comparable market salaries, with those working in the State Parks being among the worse. Due to current budget restraints, it will not be feasible to fully address these issues in the short term. However, the salary study does provide a road map for addressing them in the future as resources become available.

    Lack of a permanent, sufficient, and stable source of funding has made it difficult for DCR to transition its nonpoint source water quality improvement programs from demonstration projects to a fully functional implementation program with the service delivery mechanisms in place. This will be necessary for the state to achieve its obligations as outlined in a Chesapeake Bay TMDL, related two-year Bay milestones and implementation plan being developed in 2010-2011, and other water quality commitments and mandates.

    Local governments and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts have limited staff, expertise, and financial capabilities to carry out recent initiatives such as Chesapeake By and local TMDL implementation, stormwater management requirements, and the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act.

    Location of the Department's Richmond-based staff in four buildings makes frequent Agency staff interactions and coordination difficult. The ideal situation is for all of DCR staff to be located in the same building with adequate space for all employees.

    Cuts in general funding necessitated by the economic downturn will also have a notable effect on the agency’s ability to provide a state park system for Virginian’s that meets their expectations. Priority will be given to the operations of revenue producing facilities and programs as the agency attempts to replace lost general funds with revenues for park users, but there is only limited potential to increase fees during difficult economic times. Lands that have been acquired and facilities that have been completed under the 2002 General Obligation Bond program will remain unavailable to the public until funds can be secured for development and operation.

    The history of past reorganizations of the Department on several earlier occasions has contributed to some organizational inefficiencies that could be addressed with an internal management study of the agency such as one recently conducted for the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. While several observers have indicated that the cohesiveness within the Department has significantly improved over the past eight years, previous reports have noted that coordination among agency divisions could be strengthened and overall agency management and identity improved.
Service Area List

Service Number Title
199 503 01 Statewide Agricultural and Urban Nonpoint Source Water Quality Improvements
199 503 14 Dam Inventory, Evaluation and Classification and Flood Plain Management
199 503 17 Natural Heritage Preservation and Management
199 503 20 Financial Assistance to Soil and Water Conservation Districts
199 503 22 Technical and Financial Assistance for Land Management
199 504 01 Preservation of Open Space Lands
199 504 02 Financial Assistance for Recreational Development
199 504 03 Design and Construction of Outdoor Recreational Facilities
199 504 04 State Park Management and Operations
199 504 06 Natural Outdoor Recreational and Open Space Resource Research, Planning, and Technical Assistance
199 599 00 Administrative and Support Services
Agency Background Information

Statutory Authority
DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION AND RECREATION
The Department operates under the supervision of the Secretary of Natural Resources. Regulations for the Department and its boards are available at the Department’s principal office at 203 Governor Street, Suite 302, Richmond, VA 23219.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation is empowered to prescribe rules and regulations necessary or incidental to the performance of duties or execution of powers conferred by law, pursuant to the Administrative Process Act. The Department is charged with the responsibility for the Commonwealth’s nonpoint source pollution management program including administration of certain state and federal laws including § 319 of the federal Clean Water Act (33 USC § 1251 et seq.) and § 6217 of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act (16 USC § 1451 et seq.). The Department is also responsible for operation of a voluntary nutrient management training and certification program and for the promulgation of program regulations, including the criteria for the development of nutrient management plans for various agricultural and urban agronomic practices. The Department is required to develop written procedures for the development, submission, and the implementation of a nutrient management plan or planning standards and specifications that shall be provided to all state agencies, state colleges and universities, and other state governmental entities that own land upon which nutrients are applied. The Department is also authorized to provide technical assistance and training for state entities on the development and implementation of a nutrient management plan and to conduct periodic reviews. The Department is authorized to recognize farms that utilize practices designed to protect water quality and soil resources by administering the Clean Water Farm Award Program. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 1.

The Director may convey, lease, or demise Departmental lands, lease state-owned housing under the control of the Department to state employees, grant easements to governmental agencies and public service corporations for renewable periods of not more than 10 years, sell trees, and authorize the removal of minerals from such lands under conditions prescribed by law. With the approval of the Governor, the Director is authorized to enter into leases and contracts with an initial term of up to 30 years for the operation and development of revenue-producing capital improvement projects in Virginia state parks. The Director of the Department is responsible for managing historic sites and commemorative facilities. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 1, Article 3.

The Director may request the Governor to commission individuals designated by the Director to act as conservation officers of the Commonwealth. Commissioned conservation officers shall be law-enforcement officers and shall have power to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth and the regulations of the Department and the collegial bodies under administrative support of the Department. If requested by the chief law-enforcement officer of the locality, conservation officers shall coordinate the investigation of felonies with the local law-enforcement agency. The Department’s conservation officers shall also have the power to arrest without warrant in certain cases as authorized pursuant to § 19.2-81. Conservation officers shall have jurisdiction throughout the Commonwealth on all Department lands and waters and upon lands and waters under the management or control of the Department; on property of the United States government or a department or agency thereof on which the Commonwealth has concurrent jurisdiction and is contiguous with land of the Department or on which the Department has a management interest; on a property of another state agency or department whose property is contiguous with land of the Department; and in those local jurisdictions in which mutual aid agreements have been established pursuant to § 15.2-1736. Special conservation officers appointed pursuant to § 10.1-115 shall have jurisdiction throughout the Commonwealth. Upon separation from the Department, incapacity, death, or other good cause, the Director may recommend in writing the decommissioning of any conservation officer to the Governor. The Director may designate certain conservation officers to be special conservation officers. Special conservation officers shall have the same authority and power as sheriffs throughout the Commonwealth to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 1, Article 4.

The Department is responsible for acquiring, developing, improving, managing, licensing, and regulating the use of state parks and for undertaking a master planning process for all existing state parks, following the substantial acquisition of land for a new state park, and prior to undertaking substantial improvements to state parks. The Department is authorized to acquire properties or interests therein of scenic beauty, recreational utility, historical interest, biological significance or any other unusual features that should be acquired, preserved and maintained for the use, observation, education, health and pleasure of the people of Virginia. Further, the Department is authorized to permit and otherwise regulate activities on those portions of the Appalachian Trail under its control. The Department is instructed to establish a Golden Passport card that authorizes persons receiving social security disability payments to enter Virginia’s state parks without having to pay an admittance or parking fee. The Department is instructed to establish a Disabled Veteran’s Passport that entitles the bearer to enter Virginia’s state parks without having to pay an admittance or parking fee, and to receive a 50 percent discount on camping and swimming fees, picnic shelter rentals, and other Department-provided equipment rentals. The Department also is charged to establish, maintain, protect and regulate a statewide system of trails. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 2, Article 1.

The Department is authorized to establish and maintain a comprehensive plan for the development of public outdoor recreational facilities; to establish standards for such facilities; to disburse funds to local, regional, and other state agencies for acquiring and developing such facilities; and to make regulations to carry out the statute. It may develop recreational programs and assist state institutions, agencies, and political subdivisions in developing such programs. The Department is authorized to acquire property or interests therein to maintain the character of the land as open-space land. Such land is to be made available for agricultural and timbering uses that are compatible in maintaining the open-space nature of the property. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 2, Article 2.

The Department is authorized to establish criteria for the selection, registration and dedication of natural areas and natural area preserves; grant permits to qualified persons for the conduct of scientific research and investigations within natural area preserves; provide recommendations to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries concerning their regulatory activities related to endangered species; produce an inventory of the Commonwealth’s natural heritage resources; maintain a natural heritage data bank; develop a natural heritage plan to establish priorities for the protection, acquisition and management of registered and dedicated natural areas and natural area preserves; and maintain a state registry of voluntarily protected natural areas to be called the Virginia Registry of Natural Areas. General fund appropriations, gifts, bequests, devises, fees, lease proceeds, and funds accruing from, or attributable to, the use or management of state natural area preserves acquired or held by the Department are to be deposited to the Natural Area Preservation Fund. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 2, Article 3.
The Director is authorized, subject to the provisions of the chapter, to issue revenue bonds of the Commonwealth to pay the cost of acquiring, constructing, enlarging, improving, and maintaining camping and recreational facilities in any of the state parks and to establish and collect fees and charges for the use of such facilities. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 3.

The Department has the duty of studying rivers or sections of rivers, reporting upon and recommending to the Governor and the General Assembly those to be considered for designation as scenic rivers. The Director shall serve as the executive secretary of the Virginia Scenic River Board and may appoint Scenic River Advisory Committees or other local or regional committees to consider and manage scenic river interests and issues. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapters 4 and 4.1.

The Department administers education and training certification programs related to the state’s erosion and sediment control program. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 5, Article 4.

The Department is required to establish guidelines which will meet the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program under the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (42 USC § 4001 et seq.). Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 6, Article 1.

Pursuant to the Virginia Stormwater Management Act, and based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authorization for delegation of program authority to the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board, effective January 29, 2005, the Department may carry out those powers and duties delegated to it by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board except the adoption and promulgation of regulations. The Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board shall administer the issuance of national pollutant discharge elimination system permits for the control of stormwater discharges from municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4) and construction activities from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the federal Clean Water Act. Powers further delegated to the Department from the Board may include the authority to issue, deny, revoke, terminate, amend and enforce stormwater permits for the control of stormwater discharges from MS4s and land disturbing activities; approve and periodically review local stormwater management programs and management programs developed in conjunction with a municipal separate storm sewer permit; enforce the provisions of the Act; and otherwise act to ensure the general health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth as well as protect the quality and quantity of state waters from the potential harm of unmanaged stormwater. In the absence of the delegation of a stormwater management program to a locality, the Department will administer the responsibilities of the Act within the given jurisdiction. The Department shall develop a model ordinance for establishing a local stormwater management program consistent with the Act. For state agency projects, the Department shall perform random site inspections to assure compliance with the Act, the Erosion and Sediment Control Law, and regulations promulgated thereunder. The Department shall have thirty days in which to comment on the state agency’s stormwater management plan. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 6, Article 1.1.

The Director upon approval from the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board, may make grants or loans from the Dam Safety, Flood Prevention and Protection Assistance Fund to local governments for the purpose of providing matching funds for flood prevention or protection. The Director, upon approval from the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board, may also make grants and loans to local governments owning dams and to make loans to private entities for the design, repair and the safety modifications of dams identified in safety reports and to make grants to localities and private entities for the mapping and digitization of dam break inundation zones and conducting incremental analysis. Funding to assist in the development of these maps is contingent upon the contribution of a 50 percent match. The highest priority for awarding funds shall be placed on assisting with the mapping of the highest class of dams. The Director shall, after consultation with all interested parties, develop a guidance document governing project eligibility and project priority criteria. The Virginia Resources Authority shall administer and manage the Fund, and establish the interest rates and the repayment terms of such loans as provided in this article, in accordance with a memorandum of agreement with the Director. Code of Virginia, Title 10.2, Chapter 6, Articles 1.2 and 2.

During the maintenance, construction, or alteration of any dam or reservoir, the Department shall make periodic inspections for the purpose of securing conformity with the approved plans and specifications. The Department shall require the owner to perform at his expense such work or tests as necessary to obtain information sufficient to enable the Department to determine whether conformity with the approved plans and specifications is being secured. If, after any inspections, investigations, or examinations, or at any time as the work progresses, or at any time prior to issuance of a certificate of approval, it is found by the Director that project modifications or changes are necessary to ensure conformity with the approved plans and specifications, the Director may issue an administrative order to the owner to comply with the plans and specifications. The Director may issue a temporary stop work order on a construction or alteration project if he finds that an owner is constructing or altering a dam without having first obtained the necessary certificate of approval, or if the activities are not in accordance with approved plan and specifications. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 6, Article 2.

The Department is responsible for coordinating a comprehensive flood control program for the Commonwealth. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 6, Article 6.

The Department may issue a permit to excavate or remove any archaelogical, paleontological, prehistoric or historic feature of any cave, or to carry out other scentific investigations or collections. The Virginia Cave Board is responsible for protecting rare, unique, and irreplaceable minerals and archaeological resources found in caves; rare and endangered animal or other life forms found in caves; ground water flow in caves; and the integrity of caves that have unique characteristics or are exemplary natural community types. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 10.

The Director shall serve as executive secretary to the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation and shall be responsible for providing technical assistance and performing any administrative duties that the Foundation may direct. As such the Director is responsible for developing for the Chairman of the Board an executive summary and report of the interim activity and work of the Board on or before December 15 of each even-numbered year. The document shall report on the status of the Foundation and its Fund including, but not limited to, implementation of its strategic plan; land conservation targeting tools developed for the Foundation; descriptions of projects that received funding; a description of the geographic distribution of land protected; expenditures from, interest earned by, and financial obligations of the Fund; and progress made toward recognized state and regional land conservation goals. Additionally, the Department shall administer the Foundation’s lands as if such lands were Departmental lands, and the regulations established by the Director for the management and protection of Departmental lands shall apply to real estate held by the Foundation. The Department’s conservation officers commissioned under § 10.1-115 shall have jurisdiction on all of the Foundation’s lands and waters. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 10.2.

The Department is responsible for administering the Wild Spanish Mustangs Fund, which has the purpose of protecting a herd of wild Spanish mustangs on the barrier islands of Virginia. Allocations may include, but are not limited to, the erection and maintenance of fences to restrict the entrance of wild horses into Virginia, the transporting of any wild horses that do reach Virginia back to North Carolina, and other measures to protect the horses and promote their retention in North Carolina. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 10.3, §10.1-1027.

On July 1, 2004, in accordance with Items 379 and 382J of Chapter 4 (Appropriations Act) of the 2004 Virginia Acts of Assembly, Special Session I, that directed the merger of the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Department into DCR effective July 1, 2004, the Governor issued a memo to the Director of DCR vesting him with the powers of the former executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Department. The Director shall carry out management and supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the regulations and policies of the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board. The Director shall be vested with all the authority of the Board, including the authority of the Board to institute or intervene in legal and administrative actions to ensure compliance by local governing bodies with this chapter, and with any criteria or regulations adopted hereunder, when it is not in session, subject to such regulations as may be prescribed by the Board. In no event shall the Director have the authority to promulgate any final regulations. Chapter 41 of the 2005 Virginia Acts of Assembly (SB1103) amended the Act effective July 1, 2005 to finalize the merger and to bring the administration of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act under the auspices of DCR. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 21.

The Department, in conjunction with other state agencies, shall evaluate and report on the impacts of nonpoint source pollution on water quality and water quality improvement to the Governor and the General Assembly. The Department in cooperation with localities may develop a cooperative program to address identified nonpoint source pollution impairment or degradation, including excess nutrients. The Department of Conservation and Recreation shall be the lead state agency for determining the appropriateness of any grant related to nonpoint source pollution to be made from the Water Quality Improvement Fund to restore, protect and improve the quality of state waters. The Director shall give priority consideration to the distribution of grants from the Fund for the purposes of implementing tributary strategy plans, with a priority given to agricultural practices. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 21.1.

The Director shall provide assistance to the Foundation for Virginia’s Natural Resources in developing grant criteria and in providing advice on grant priorities and other appropriate issues. The Foundation for Virginia’s Natural Resources is created primarily to assist in developing and to encouraging the nonregulatory conservation programs within the agencies of the Secretariats of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Forestry; and to foster collaboration and partnerships among businesses, communities, and the Commonwealth’s environmental enhancement programs. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 21.2.

The governing bodies of localities, and state-supported institutions of higher learning having a police force, as well as sheriffs with law-enforcement authority within localities without a police force, and the Director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation with commissioned conservation officers, or any combination thereof may, by proper resolutions, enter in and become a party to contracts or mutual aid agreements for the use of their joint police or other law-enforcement forces, both regular and auxiliary, their equipment and materials to maintain peace and good order. Any police or other law-enforcement officer, regular or auxiliary, while performing his duty under any such contract or agreement, shall have the same authority in such locality as he has within the locality where he was appointed. In counties where no police department has been established, the sheriff may, in his discretion, enter into mutual aid agreements as provided by this section. Code of Virginia, Title 15.2, Chapter 17, Article 3, § 15.2-1736.

The Department is directed to cooperate with the Commonwealth Transportation Board in the designation of scenic highways and byways. Code of Virginia, Title 33.1, Chapter 1, Article 5.

The Director has the responsibility to designate a public recreational area as such and recommend to the Commonwealth Transportation Board that an access road or bikeway be provided to the area. Code of Virginia, Title 33.1, Chapter 1, Article 15.

In accordance with the criteria adopted by the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, the Director has the responsibility to verify the conservation value of any donation of land or an interest in land for which a tax credit in an amount of $1 million or more is claimed. The Department additionally has the responsibility to compile an annual report on qualified donations of less-than-fee interests accepted by any public or private conservation agency in a respective calendar year and shall submit the report by December 1 of each year to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Appropriations, House Committee on Finance, and the Senate Committee on Finance. Code of Virginia, Title 58.1, Chapter 3, Article 20.1.

The Director of the Department is responsible for prescribing uniform standards relating to real estate devoted to open-space use under Special Assessment for Land Preservation commonly known as the Land Use Assessment Law. Code of Virginia, Title 58.1, Chapter 32, Article 4.

The Department is responsible for approving the nutrient management plans for confined animal feeding operations and with the Department of Environmental Quality may include in the confined animal feeding permit or nutrient management plan more frequent or additional monitoring of waste, soils or ground water as required to protect state waters. The Department, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, is required to develop or approve a training program for persons operating confined animal feeding operations covered by the General Permit. Additionally, by December 31, 2005, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Quality, shall complete an examination of current developments in scientific research and technology that shall include a review of land application of poultry waste, soil nutrient retention capacity, and water quality degradation and adopt and implement regulatory or other changes, if any, to its nutrient management plan program that it concludes are appropriate as a result of this examination. Upon the effective date of the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s revised regulatory criteria and standards governing phosphorous application rates, or on October 31, 2005, whichever is later, phosphorous application rates for all nutrient management plans developed pursuant to this section shall conform solely to such regulatory criteria and standards adopted by the Department of Conservation and Recreation to protect water quality or to reduce soil concentrations of phosphorous or phosphorous loadings. The application of poultry waste shall be managed to minimize runoff and leaching and reduce adverse water quality impacts from phosphorous. Code of Virginia, Title 62.1, Chapter 3.1, Article 3.

The Department shall assist the Department of Environmental Quality in the adoption of regulations related to the land application of sewage sludge. The regulations shall include the requirements for site-specific nutrient management plans, developed by persons certified in accordance with the Department, prior to land application for all sites where sewage sludge is land applied. The Department must approve certain nutrient management plans prior to permit issuance. Code of Virginia, Title 62.1, Chapter 3.1, Article 4.

The Secretary of Natural Resources shall develop a plan for the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s waters designated as impaired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The plan shall be revised and amended as needed to reflect changes in strategies, timetables, and milestones. Upon the request of the Secretary of Natural Resources, state agencies shall participate in the development of the plan. Code of Virginia, Title 62.1, Chapter 3.7.

The Director serves as a member of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission. Code of Virginia, Title 62.1, Chapter 6.

BOARD OF CONSERVATION AND RECREATION

The Board of Conservation and Recreation provides recommendations to the Director on grants and loans pertaining to outdoor recreation, on the designation of recreational and historic sites eligible for recreational access road funds, on master plans and substantial acquisition or improvement amendments to master plans, and on designations for scenic rivers, scenic highways, and Virginia Byways. The Board is authorized to conduct fund-raising activities as deemed appropriate and will deposit such revenue into the State Parks Projects Fund. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 1, Article 2.

The Board may provide advice to the Director on expenditures from the State Park Projects Fund. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 2, Article 1.

The Board is authorized to allocate grants of state funds to local governments for conserving, protecting, improving, maintaining, and developing public beaches on tidal shorelines and to oversee local implementation of approved projects. The Board may establish guidelines governing the application procedures, allocations or implementation standards in accordance with the criteria set forth in the Public Beach Conservation and Development Act. The Director provides Department staff necessary for the execution of the functions of the Board. The Board shall have the authority to promulgate regulations necessary for the execution of Public Beach Conservation and Development Act. Title 10.1, Chapter 7, Article 2.

The Board is authorized to encourage and promote nonpoint source pollution control and prevention, and to provide technical assistance on aspects of water quality restoration, protection, and improvement. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 22.1, Article 3.

VIRGINIA SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION BOARD

The Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board is authorized to approve the creation, boundary modification, and discontinuance of soil and water conservation districts; to approve applications for federal aid for soil and water conservation programs; and to make loans from state funds to local authorities for such programs; and the Board may give or lend loans from state funds to local authorities for such programs; and the Board may give or lend financial aid and other assistance to soil and water conservation districts. The Board is authorized to promulgate regulations to carry out these functions. The Director provides Department staff necessary for the execution of the functions of the Board. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 5, Articles 2 and 3.

Under the Agricultural Stewardship Act, the Board shall review appeals by persons aggrieved by decisions of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services regarding agricultural water pollution complaints. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 5, Article 3.1.

The Board is authorized to promulgate regulations for the effective control of soil erosion, sediment deposition and nonagricultural runoff which must be met in local soil erosion and sediment control programs to prevent the unreasonable degradation of properties, stream channels, waters and other natural resources. The Board approves programs adopted by the soil and water conservation districts or by local governing bodies; adopts programs for localities failing to submit proposals; determines appeals from districts’ decisions respecting proposed land-disturbing activities; and approves such activities with respect to lands under jurisdiction of more than one local control program. The Board is instructed to periodically conduct comprehensive reviews of local erosion and sediment control programs to ensure that they meet minimum standards of effectiveness in controlling soil erosion, sediment deposition, and nonagricultural runoff. The Board is required to issue certificates of competence concerning the content, application and intent of specified subject areas of the Erosion and Sediment Control Law and accompanying regulations to personnel of local governments and to responsible land disturbers who have completed training courses or in other ways demonstrated adequate knowledge of such laws and regulations. To address water quality violations, the Board may issue stop work orders according to the process outlined in the article. Those localities which have not initiated or implemented an approved corrective action agreement are subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 per day with the maximum amount not to exceed $20,000 per violation. Additionally, each locality is required to report to the Department, in a method and on a time schedule established by the Department, a listing of each land-disturbing activity in the locality for which an Erosion and Sediment Control plan has been approved. Any person engaging in the creation and operation of wetland mitigation or stream restoration banks in multiple jurisdictions, which have been approved and are operated in accordance with applicable federal and state guidance, laws, or regulations for the establishment, use, and operation of mitigation or stream restoration banks, pursuant to a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Quality, the Marine Resources Commission, or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, may, at the option of that person, file general erosion and sediment control specifications for wetland mitigation or stream restoration banks annually with the Board for review and approval consistent with guidelines established by the Board. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 5, Article 4.

The Board is authorized to permit, regulate, and control stormwater runoff in the Commonwealth. In accordance with the Virginia Stormwater Management Act, the Board may issue, deny, revoke, terminate, amend and enforce stormwater permits for the control of stormwater discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems and land disturbing activities; adopt regulations; approve and periodically review local stormwater management programs and management programs developed in conjunction with a municipal separate storm sewer permit; enforce the provisions of the Act; and otherwise act to ensure the general health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth as well as protect the quality and quantity of state waters from the potential harm of unmanaged stormwater. The Board may also delegate to the Department or to an approved locality any of the powers and duties vested in it by the Act except the adoption and promulgation of regulations. Delegation shall not remove from the Board authority to enforce the provisions of this article. Code of Virginia, Title 10.1, Chapter 6, Article 1.1.

The Director, upon approval from the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board, shall direct the distribution of loans from the Dam Safety, Flood Prevention and Pr

Customers
Customer Group Customers served annually Potential customers annually
Agricultural Community (number of farms) 15,000 47,000
Boards and Foundations (DCR's) 11 11
Businesses and Concessionaires 1,010 1,520
Conservation Organizations and Land Trusts 50 100
Educational Institutions/educators/students/researchers 5,000 10,000
Government Agencies (Federal, State, and Local) 450 450
Land Preservation Tax Credit Applicants 6 10
Landowners 500 1,000
Media Outlets 626 626
Recreational Users (campers, picnickers, hikers, etc.) 7,200,000 10,500,000
Regulated Community 16,000 46,000
Soil and Water Conservation Districts 47 47
Special Customer Groups 400 700
Volunteers and Volunteer Groups 2,500 10,000

Anticipated Changes To Agency Customer Base
[Nothing entered]

Partners
Partner Description
Boards and Foundations
Chesapeake Bay Program Includes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia
Contractual Services
Development Community and Environmental Consulting Firms
Educational Institutions
Engineers and Consultants
Federal Agencies
General Assembly
Governor's Office and Cabinet
Land Conservation Organizations and Land Trusts Virginia Outdoors Foundation
Local Governments
Non-profits
Other States
Regional Planning District Commissions
Soil and Water Conservation Districts
Stakeholder Organizations
Tourism Organization
Vendors
Volunteers and Volunteer Organizations
Products and Services
  • Description of the Agency's Products and/or Services:
    Agency Policy, Planning and Budgeting
    Financial Assistance
    Outdoor Recreational Activities
    Regulatory Programs information
    Technical Assistance
    Public Education
    Public Information
    Permitting, Regulation, and Enforcement
    Public Safety (dam safety, law enforcement, etc.)
    Training and certification programs
    Construction Supervision and Oversight
    Park Facilities (cabins, campsites, picnic shelters, visitor centers, meeting facilities, training facilities, museums, etc.)
    Mapping for Dam Break Inundation Zones and Areas of Special Flood Hazards
    Conservation lands tracking and targeting tools
    Land conservation through funding fee simple and easement acquisitions
    Conservation value verification for the Land Preservation Tax Credit
    Invasive species information and management
    Rare species and natural community inventory, information and management, and conservation
    Land conservation planning and targeting information
    Natural Area Preserves for hiking, nature study, bird watching, guided hikes, hunting
    Park Programs (festivals, concerts, plays, performances, re-enactments, living histories, interpretive programs)
    Merchandise sales, gift shops, restaurants and food concessions
    Resource Management and protection
    Outdoor Recreation Resource Planning
    Cave and karst conservation services
    Special studies, research, surveys, reports, and maps
    Review of land preservation tax credit applications
  • Factors Impacting Agency Products and/or Services:
    state funding levels
    insufficient staffing levels in key program areas
    declining federal funding levels
    expanding state and/or federal requirements
    increasing cost of construction materials, services, and land
    facility and equipment conditions
    increased demand for agency services/products
    difficulty attracting and retaining qualified staff
    increasing size of the natural area preserve and state park systems
  • Anticipated Changes in Products or Services:
    As Virginia's population increases, there will be an increased demand for services and facilities. However, there will also be additional stress placed upon the water, land, and fragile environments linked to those services and facilities.
Finance
  • Financial Overview:
    DCR has gained additional MEL over the last several years to better manage its increased program responsibilities.

    Of the authorized 543 full-time classified positions, 205 of these positions are located in the Richmond area. The remaining 338 positions are located throughout the state.

    DCR staff are located throughout the Commonwealth and have management responsibilities at 34 35 state parks, 51 59 natural area preserves, eight regional offices.

    DCR has 122 law enforcement positions, which must attend a 20-week law-enforcement certification program, plus re-certification every two (2) years. Within the Division of State Parks, managerial/supervisory law enforcement personnel are required to live in staff housing on the park premises, if available.

    Although the state parks are opened year-round, the primary season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day when park visitation surges. To accommodate the great influx of visitors, the Division of State Parks relies heavily on wage/seasonal staff to work the concessions, enterprise operations, lifeguards and serve as contact and maintenance rangers.

    For the 2009 park season, 1,181 wage positions were approved. During the non-peak season (October through April) 200 to 300 wage personnel are needed to provide routine maintenance, housekeeping, snow and ice removals, trail maintenance and repairs, etc. at the parks.
  • Financial Breakdown:
    FY 2011    FY 2012
      General Fund     Nongeneral Fund        General Fund     Nongeneral Fund  
    Base Budget $42,390,641  $74,658,770     $42,390,641  $74,658,770 
    Change To Base    $0  $0     $0  $0 
               
    Agency Total $42,390,641  $74,658,770     $42,390,641  $74,658,770 
    This financial summary is computed from information entered in the service area plans.
Human Resources
  • Overview
    DCR has gained additional MEL over the last several years to better manage its increased program responsibilities.

    Of the authorized 543 full-time classified positions, 205 of these positions are located in the Richmond area. The remaining 338 positions are located throughout the state.

    DCR staff are located throughout the Commonwealth and have management responsibilities at 35 state parks, 59 natural area preserves, and eight regional offices.

    DCR has 122 law enforcement positions, which must attend a 20-week law-enforcement certification program, plus re-certification every two (2) years. Within the Division of State Parks, managerial/supervisory law enforcement personnel are required to live in staff housing on the park premises, if available.

    Although the state parks are opened year-round, the primary season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day when park visitation surges. To accommodate the great influx of visitors, the Division of State Parks relies heavily on wage/seasonal staff to work the concessions, enterprise operations, lifeguards and serve as contact and maintenance rangers.

    For the 2009 park season, 1,181 wage positions were approved. During the non-peak season (October through April) 200 to 300 wage personnel are needed to provide routine maintenance, housekeeping, snow and ice removals, trail maintenance and repairs, etc. at the parks.
  • Human Resource Levels
    Effective Date 7/1/2009    
    Total Authorized Position level 543    
    Vacant Positions -63    
    Current Employment Level 480.0    
    Non-Classified (Filled) 55    
    Full-Time Classified (Filled) 425    breakout of Current Employment Level
    Part-Time Classified (Filled) 0    
    Faculty (Filled) 0    
    Wage 1211    
    Contract Employees 11    
    Total Human Resource Level 1,702.0   = Current Employment Level + Wage and Contract Employees
  • Factors Impacting HR
    Aging Work Force: As of July 1, 2009, 207 DCR employees (38%) are age 50 or over, and 43 employees (8%) are age 60 or over. A total of 36 could retire now with full benefits, and over the next five years another 24 55 could retire with full benefits. A total of 155 (29%) of employees age 50 or over could opt for full or reduced retirement at the present time.

    Turnover Rate: In FY09, DCR hired 26 new employees and lost 30 employees. The biggest reason cited for leaving the agency was for better jobs with higher salaries, making the agency-wide turnover rate 6.2% (the Commonwealth's rate is 9.8%). The loss of law-enforcement staff impacts the agency heavily because of the cost of the law-enforcement training paid for by the agency. These employees are being lured into local law enforcement or local parks because of the higher salaries being offered. Salary levels when suppressed, affect recruitment and retention. The challenge is balancing FTE levels to meet objectives while working within operational budgets.

    Salary Compression: The average years of state service for agency employees is 10.9 years. Long-term employee salaries have not increased significantly beyond normal annual pay increases authorized by the General Assembly. In order to attract new employees, starting salaries are often comparable to salaries of longer-term employees, which if offered, creates problems with longer-term staff. Due to the current economy and high unemployment rate, individuals who have been laid off are accepting salaries lower than what they were previously earning. Because of this trend, attracting and retaining skilled individuals has improved. DCR has contracted with the Waters Consulting Group, Inc. to perform a salary study in an effort to identify some of the agency’s pay issues, such as salary compression.

    Lack of Training: Due to inadequate staff levels, new supervisor training, professional development programs, and cross training has not always occurred when needed. Training is also impacted by not having targeted training funds in the budget or a more formal training program established within the agency. Lack of adequate training can impact employee and visitor safety, employee job satisfaction, and natural resource protection.

    Demand for more administrative services: As explained elsewhere in this document, the agency has added personnel, facilities, services and programs over the years. These expansions require corresponding increases in administrative support areas such as procurement, financial management, public relations, human resources, payroll processing, and information technology services. However, there has been no corresponding increase in agency administrative FTE in several years.

    New facilities, new parks, and new natural resources area preserves have been opened and more are scheduled to open as a result of the 1992 and 2002 bond authorizations. Current staffing levels are inadequate to run these new facilities even with the 31 new positions authorized since July 2006. The shortfall is made up with a combination of seasonal and year round wage employees. We also have a growing need for multilingual staff (Hispanic and Asian) and a demand for more interpretive, educational, resource management, and outdoor recreation program staff.

    With the consolidation of the Commonwealth's Stormwater Management programs within DCR's Division of Soil and Water Conservation, 10 new stormwater positions were granted by the General Assembly. Staff have been hired to administer the federal components of the program. The need for additional staff will be especially crucial if many localities opt not to administer the program.

    The amendment of the Dam Safety Act in 2001 resulted in a large increase in the number of dams that are of size to be regulated by the Commonwealth. Currently, 637 dams have an Operation and Maintenance Certificate that requires inspections and certifications by the Division of Dam Safety and Floodplain Management engineering staff. Inventory efforts have identified several hundred additional dams that are of size to be regulated and expect that Virginia will have at least 2,000-3,000 dams that will meet the minimal size requirements for regulation once the inventory is completed. The Dam Safety Program is currently understaffed. This excludes the need for additional resources to address the 2,000+/- dams of size that need to be brought into compliance with Virginia Code and the Virginia Impounding Structure Regulations.
  • Anticipated HR Changes
    There is a potential for DCR to replace 9.9% of its workforce (91 full time classified positions) over the next five years due to employees reaching full retirement eligibility. Another 121 employees will also be eligible for reduced retirement within the next five years. This places an additional demand on scarce resources for severance costs, recruitment, training, and higher salary offers.

    DCR is conducting a salary review of present positions and role titles. Results could show that additional funding will be needed to bring employee salaries in-line with comparable roles and to address compression issues.

    DCR will have to continue to rely on wage/hourly employees to meet the needs of increasing programs and services, until additional full-time classified positions are approved.

    DCR abolished 13 positions in FY 09 due to budget constraints. With the continued budget problems in the Commonwealth, DCR may be forced to abolish additional positions.

    With the expansion of DCR's regulatory programs such as the Virginia Storm Water Management Program and the Dam Safety Program, DCR anticipates expanding the technical and administrative program staff to provide more guidance and direction to localities and the public and to administer a number of local programs.

    New and expanded strategies will be needed to improve the ability of the private sector and other levels of government to assist with the agency's program delivery.
Information Technology
  • Current Operational IT Investments:
    DCR is continuing with the VITA/Northrop-Grumman “transformation” process. At this point, all PC’s have been refreshed with newer hardware, our service desk has been migrated, our network has been transformed, and we are planning for the transition of many of our servers from our data centers to VITA’s CESC. The next major step in this process will be the completion of the messaging and directory services transformation, which is expected to be completed before the end of calendar year 2009. The messaging transformation is introducing new mailbox and attachment size restrictions that do not exist on our current Novell Groupwise mail system. These new size restrictions are forcing the agency to re-work business processes, delaying the transformation process while we explore other alternatives for exchanging data that we have until now been able to share via e-mail.

    Previous plans to update DCR’s ERP system (IDSS), which continues to run on very old hardware and an unsupported version of Oracle, did not come to fruition. Due to increasing instability with this system, a new initiative is underway to replace the server and upgrade to a newer version of Oracle.
    DCR’s Natural Heritage Division is utilizing a system called Biotics. Biotics consists of a DBMS that enables data management of Natural Heritage data, via integration of ArcView GIS software and Oracle. Biotics is used by Heritage Programs throughout the U.S., Canada, and central/south America to maintain and propagate data on rare species and natural communities. Data are updated by all Heritage programs on a daily basis and data exchanges occur quarterly with Heritage data subscribers and with NatureServe, the aggregator and hub of all Natural Heritage network data and information. At the state level, Biotics allows the Virginia Natural Heritage Program to conduct tabular and spatial queries, to answer species- and location-specific questions. This enables DCR divisions and other state agencies to collaborate on projects and proposed actions in Virginia, to assure that Natural Heritage resources are minimally impacted by their work. Furthermore, via NatureServe's international network of Heritage Programs, Biotics allows collaboration for biodiversity conservation at a greater scale. Via use of Biotics as a common DMBS across all Heritage Programs, federal agencies and national organizations can access Virginia DCR-Natural Heritage data and information for national level decision making regarding natural resources.

    DCR conducts a large amount of geospatial analysis using GIS software. Web based geospatial map services support interstate and regional projects as well as supplementing DCR programs. While there is a growing demand for GIS services internal and external to DCR and a high public receptivity to GIS products, these services have been reduced due to the higher hardware costs we now incur under the VITA/NG service rate structure. An intra-agency GIS Committee is working to encourage coordination of GIS within DCR without a restructuring of DCR's existing centers of GIS strength. This committee also acts to coordinate and influence the GIS efforts of VITA/VGIN.

    7 Soil & Water Conservation Watershed Offices each have their own server and GroupWise mail system linked to the central office via fractional T1 WAN links. Through these links, SWC Field Office staff can access their email in real time and access the Internet. 31 of our State Parks are able to connect to agency email, the reservations system and the agency ERP system using the Internet. Service and speeds vary with the type of connection available, which consists of dial-up (slowest connection speed), DSL, satellite, and cable (highest connection speed). Parks rely on internet access for the Reservation Center software and retail sales and inventory control, both systems managed via the web by third party vendors. These technological requirements have placed strains on parks that only have dial up or satellite connections.
  • Factors Impacting the Current IT:
    The financial impact of changes driven by VITA transformation and the transfer of statewide IT functions to Northrup-Grumman on July 1, 2006 has been significant. Agency IT costs (personnel and support services) have increased from $986,000 annually to over $1.028 million this past year, while we have reduced the number of I.T. assets by 30% to keep costs manageable. These costs do not include an estimated $260,000 in additional fees that could be incurred for data storage, backups, etc. once the agency is fully transformed. The expectation of high costs has curtailed the use of new technologies despite the potential for them to make an impact.

    There is also concern about file storage costs once transformation is complete. DCR currently has large numbers of files that are not actively backed-up. They do not change except on long cycles. Therefore we would not need, nor want to pay for, routine daily or weekly back-ups of this data.

    There is a strong demand for improved access for natural heritage and conservation data using new GIS and web technologies, and it is difficult to keep up with the demand and the technological advances to support it. Changes are occurring rapidly in geospatial software and data format standards. These rapid changes require increased levels of security caused by access to multiple operating systems and more open applications. The impact on DCR of the proposed Five Year GIS Strategic Plan, being developed under the guidance of VGIN, is unknown at this time.

    The Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board (Board) Impounding Structure Regulations (4VAC50-20-10 et seq.) were revised effective September 26, 2008. These Regulations now require dam owners to pay fees and comply with more stringent controls. The current inventory of dams is maintained in a database that is out dated and difficult to extract data for mailings, review dam owner payments, to develop spreadsheets for bi-monthly Board meetings, develop lists, etc. Currently, all permitting information and fees are collected via paper documents and processed by hand. A state-of-the-art system would reduce two fold the time currently spent by the Executive Secretary, Regional Engineers and Program Manager working with the existing database. The Agency needs to modernize our systems with a Dam Safety Enterprise Web Site capable of electronically collecting and disbursing fees, accepting and tracking permitting information with attachments, issuing certificates, providing training support, tracking inspections, tracking enforcement actions and providing data reporting.

    The unavailability of affordable high-speed Internet access continues to impede our field sites from linking with the agency network and web hosted software for conducting daily business. Telephone lines in many rural localities, where many of our state parks are located, are inadequate for reliable Internet connectivity that is necessary for dial-up connections to the DCR network. In many of these same localities DSL and Internet cable are not available. This is an issue that needs enterprise-level attention by VITA.

    Administrative processes that are routinely handled by electronic processing in other state agencies and businesses are still relegated to paper-bound reporting. Because many of our staff are located outside of the Richmond office, this results in unnecessary mailing and processing of paper forms and reports as opposed to cost effective electronic processing. The central administrative systems (Finance, HR) that we do have are not able to exchange data with one another, requiring us to redundantly enter the same data in multiple systems. The agency lacks the staff or resources to develop these processes on its own and had hoped that the VITA/NG partnership, which now includes VEAP, would facilitate sharing of systems within state government that duplicate these functions. Ongoing discussions of plans to replace major statewide IT functions like CARS also has discouraged us from developing software that would feed into these legacy systems.
    Delays in transformation have resulted in an inability to provide planned and recently developed services. There is a reluctance to develop applications for existing server deployment when our servers may not exist after server transformation. We are, at the same time, unable to obtain servers from VITA/NG for use by new applications in a timely manner.

    Security concerns by the VITA/NG partnership have caused the closure of ports and connections required of some commercial software. There needs to be a quicker resolution to making this software functional in the IT setup imposed on us. The resolutions should be then directed to those agencies that use this software and will be facing the same issue.

    There is a need for DCR to establish a state trails inventory and partner with Virginia Tourism Corporation to both promote these trails on their website and evaluate their economic impacts. The project will likely be the largest statewide GIS database and application project dedicated to bicycle routes and pedestrian trails in the United States. This project is unique because it does not distinguish "recreation" and "transportation" routes, but seamlessly integrates trails and routes into one database for planning purposes. When all three phases are complete, this innovative digital database will be available to statewide decision makers and trail users via two distinct Web-based GIS applications.
  • Proposed IT Solutions:
    Procurement of a workgroup level DBMS for use in geospatial applications and online database availability has been anticipated for a couple of years but has been caught in the server transformation issue above. Creation of a large intranet-like map services to support the Department’s geospatial needs across multiple programs/regional offices as well as the general public will also commence when the server issues are resolved. These map services would be available to all public employees and the general public for the purposes of obtaining geospatial data of DCR resources.

    There is also need for development of an “enterprise” ERP system for agencies that goes beyond eVA, which is not a complete ERP system. It is hopeful that this will be addressed in the next biennium with the Governor’s Enterprise Applications projects.

    The most critical information technology needs for state parks is electronic communication between central office and field locations; for field locations to be able to use the agency ERP system (IDSS), and other central-office applications necessary to handle the business end of park operations; and the need for continued access for the reservation center and field locations to our computerized reservation system. The remoteness and aging infrastructure of Virginia's rural telecommunications systems makes it difficult to achieve these desired results.

    The current Stormwater Program regulations (VAC50-60-10 et seq.) are being revised to include more stringent pollution controls and higher fees. Currently, all permitting information and fees are collected via paper documents and processed by hand. The Agency is proceeding with a Stormwater Enterprise Web Site capable of electronically collecting and disbursing fees, accepting and tracking permitting information with attachments, issuing certificates, providing training content, tracking inspections, tracking enforcement actions and providing data reporting.

    The State Parks Reservation Center uses a proprietary application, under a sole source procurement, from ReserveAmerica and has been used by DCR since 1995. The application provides real-time information of availability of our state park campgrounds, cabins, conference centers, etc. Customers can make reservations on line or through the State Parks Reservation call center. Staff at the various state parks are able to provide check-in service to customers at the park via this application. The application also allows for credit card billing, reports, etc. to enhance the administrative process. An agreement was reached with ReserveAmerica in 2006 where they will maintain their pricing structure for a period of 5 years. DCR is currently in the 4th year of the agreement.

    State Parks also maintains a cash register system, which has been determined to be out of scope for VITA, that processes sales for merchandise and park services as well as cash and credit card transactions. Data and support for the software for this system is maintained by a third party under a sole source agreement that was renewed in 2009. Hardware for this system was replaced in FY09.

    The Division of Soil and Water Conservation is close to completing the transformation of it’s Ag Cost Share Tracking Program from a Citrix environment to a web-hosted application. This program is used by DCR and the 47 Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The Division has also secured funding for Phase II of this project. It is expected that this second phase will include enhancements to the core application, field data collection, conservation planning and editable GIS functionality. Future distributed data collection applications are likely to build on this product and/or procedure.

    DCR needs to develop a new version of it’s nutrient management software (NutMan) for the direct use by farmers who wish to develop nutrient management plans (NMPs) for their farm operations, provided that the farms are relatively noncomplex and well suited to the standard recommendations the program would generate. The project to develop and pilot the use of the software will require three years. Presently, all of the NMPs must be developed by trained and certified professionals who use the present NutMan software jointly developed by DCR and Virginia Tech. This new capability will be needed to help enable additional acres under NMPs necessary to meet EPA’s Nutrient Total Maximum Daily Load regulation for the Chesapeake Bay. DCR would contract with Virginia Tech to modify the present NutMan software and DCR would pilot the implementation of the software with a test group of farmers to evaluate needed enhancements. DCR would need to control the contractual arrangement with Virginia Tech so that the agency would have significant input into determining needed program modifications and refinements as the project advanced, in addition to co-owning the software with VT. The agency is pursuing state PIF funding to initiate the project and to use as match to attempt to secure an outside grant to launch the pilot project for an initial 3 year period.
  • Current IT Services:

    Estimated Ongoing Operations and Maintenance Costs for Existing IT Investments

    Cost - Year 1 Cost - Year 2
    General Fund Non-general Fund General Fund Non-general Fund
    Projected Service Fees $1,535,750 $352,232 $1,558,786 $357,516
    Changes (+/-) to VITA
    Infrastructure
    $559,509 -$33,443 $942,764 -$33,443
    Estimated VITA Infrastructure $2,095,259 $318,789 $2,501,550 $324,073
    Specialized Infrastructure $138,389 $300,418 $138,389 $300,418
    Agency IT Staff $311,720 $0 $311,720 $0
    Non-agency IT Staff $2,743 $0 $4,000 $0
    Other Application Costs $0 $0 $0 $0
    Agency IT Current Services $2,548,111 $619,207 $2,955,659 $624,491
    Comments:
    Per DPB Handbook; pg 33: ESTIMATED VITA INFRASTRUCTURE - "Estimate VITA Infrastructure costs including all networking, hardware, data storage, mainframes, telecommunications, project and procurement oversight services, and any other equipment and services provided by VITA."
    This cumulation of costs is not simply the monthly charge to agencies by the VITA/NG partnership. It includes telecommunications (land lines & wireless), Internet, single procurements of hardware & software, etc. The number provided by VITA appears to include ONLY the recurring monthly fee charged to the agency, not the other fees asked for by DPB.
  • Proposed IT Investments

    Estimated Costs for Projects and New IT Investments

    Cost - Year 1 Cost - Year 2
    General Fund Non-general Fund General Fund Non-general Fund
    Major IT Projects $0 $0 $0 $0
    Non-major IT Projects $100,000 $536,000 $0 $882,000
    Agency-level IT Projects $0 $24,000 $0 $64,000
    Major Stand Alone IT Procurements $0 $0 $0 $0
    Non-major Stand Alone IT Procurements $9,000 $180,000 $8,000 $180,000
    Total Proposed IT Investments $109,000 $740,000 $8,000 $1,126,000
  • Projected Total IT Budget
    Cost - Year 1 Cost - Year 2
    General Fund Non-general Fund General Fund Non-general Fund
    Current IT Services $2,548,111 $619,207 $2,955,659 $624,491
    Proposed IT Investments $109,000 $740,000 $8,000 $1,126,000
    Total $2,657,111 $1,359,207 $2,963,659 $1,750,491
Appendix A - Agency's information technology investment detail maintained in VITA's ProSight system.
Capital
  • Current State of Capital Investments:
    DCR owns a large portfolio of facilities and properties across the Commonwealth as part of its State Park System and its Natural Area Preserve System. This creates major capital, maintenance reserve, and preventive maintenance challenges. The current state of capital outlay in DCR is as follows:

    STATE PARKS
    DCR currently operates 35 state parks. Each state park has an adopted master plan identifying facilities needed to bring the park to its desired level of development. There are over 300 major capital projects identified in these publicly developed plans.

    DCR now owns three new major park sites (Middle Peninsula, Seven Bends, and Widewater) with no developments. All of these will require major investments in capital development funds in order to open them to the public. An investment of approximately $51 million through FY14 is needed for the phase 1 development of these parks. In addition, one new state park, Powhatan, has received funding for initial infrastructure and limited day use facilities which will be completed in late 2011. Additional funding will be needed to complete the day use development and then to provide the full range of facilities planned for the park.

    In DCR’s budget request for the FY10-FY12 biennium, 10 critical projects (including Seven Bends and Widewater day use development) to meet public need were identified costing nearly $102 million Capital development funding will be necessary for Virginia’s state parks to keep up with the ever increasing public demands and to provide the desired facilities to keep our parks ranked among the best in the Country.

    With over 1,200 buildings, DCR has one of the greatest building maintenance requirements in state government. Buildings vary in age from over 200 years to just completed and major maintenance requirements cover a wide variety of projects. Due to deferred maintenance over the years caused by the lack of funds, many of our structures are in critical need of major repair/renovation. A 2005 APA report placed DCR's deferred maintenance in excess of $197 million, the 2nd greatest need identified in the Commonwealth in that report.

    DCR currently has approximately 50 projects on our approved Maintenance Reserve list. These projects cover everything from bathhouse and cabin repairs, to water, electric, and sewer upgrades; from road paving to new roofs. Without funding, projects are delayed and repairs may become more costly.

    NATURAL AREA PRESERVES
    As of August 13, 2009, DCR has 59 natural area preserves (NAPs), totaling 49,134 acres of which, DCR owns 39 and has significant stewardship responsibilities for an additional 20 dedicated preserves.

    Of the 39 preserves that DCR owns, 19 have public access facilities, and all 39 are open to foot travel. These require increasing amounts of maintenance to replace or update facility components (such as gravel roads and parking areas, hiking trails, boardwalks, observation decks, a swinging pedestrian bridge, gates, and signs) as they reach the end of their useful lives, and as demand for public access increases.

    DCR maintains a fire cache to support its prescribed burning program, with extensive equipment including two wildland fire engines (four-wheel drive trucks equipped specifically for fire management operations). This fire cache consists of a four-bay concrete block building/garage located at the VDOT Richmond facility in Colonial Heights, which is available to DCR via a written agreement with VDOT.

    DCR also maintains three equipment storage and workshop facilities for its Natural Heritage Program, two of which are co-located at VDOT facilities in Salem and Tappahannock, and the third located adjacent to the Suffolk DCR-DSWC office. Two additional storage areas are needed.

    AGENCY
    DCR maintains an agency radio system to provide for needed communication between field staff with Conservation Officer duties and other DCR or local law enforcement personnel. STARS implementation will phase out the need for this system.

    DCR maintains handheld radios, operating on DCR frequencies, for purposes of conducting fire management activities, in particular during prescribed burns as well as for law enforcement communication.

    VEHICLES
    As of June 30, 2009, DCR owns 425 vehicles and leases 81 vehicles from the Office of Fleet Management/Department of General Services.

    DCR replacement criterion for all vehicles is the lesser of 10 years or 120,000 miles. Approximately, 33% of agency-owned vehicles are at 10 years old or older and approximately, 40% of the older models have at least 120,000 miles. These percentages have decreased by 4% and 16%, respectively, over the past year.

    Road and work vehicles, such as dump trucks and pickups used for Park maintenance activities are regularly kept long after the defined vehicle replacement lifecycle.
  • Factors Impacting Capital Investments:
    One of the largest challenges to addressing DCR's capital issues is the significant lack of funding to meet the identified capital needs. Providing and maintaining adequate funding will be necessary in order for DCR to properly maintain and continue to grow our State Park System and our Natural Area System.

    DCR will need increased resources if it is to meet maintenance standards to maintain its public access facilities in safe condition for visitors.

    The 2002 Parks and Natural Areas Bond and the 2008 Virginia Public Building Authority Bond has created a significant expansion to our Parks and Natural Area Systems. These expansions require public access and facilities development funds. Preventative maintenance funds will also need to be made available.

    The Commonwealth is implementing the Statewide Agency Radio System (STARS), which will replace existing DCR radio systems and affect DCR staff who have vehicle-equipped radios. This will require funding for ongoing maintenance, vehicle installation costs, etc.

    A second (western) fire cache is being planned as DCR increases its capability to use prescribed burning as a necessary tool in managing natural areas. This expansion will require new garage facilities in or near Abingdon or Marion.
  • Capital Investments Alignment:
    DCR's capital outlay plan directly supports the agency's mission to "work with Virginians to conserve, protect, and enhance their lands and water and promotes the stewardship and enjoyment of natural, cultural and outdoor recreational resources". Both the State Park System and the Natural Area Preserve System conserve our lands and waters as well as provide stewardship and recreational opportunities on our properties. The buildings and other facilities on our Parks provide opportunities for the public to be both day use and overnight guests on our properties.
Agency Goals

Goal 1

Meet growing demands on Virginia's award-winning State Parks, while maintaining

Goal Summary and Alignment

As Virginia's population increases, so does the demand for our award winning state parks. Virginia State Parks are natural preserves where flora and fauna thrive and our park system serves as tonic for the mind, body and spirit for visitors. With this in mind, we are committed to balancing the growing demand for services while remaining faithful to a rich tradition of protecting and conserving these natural resources.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Engage and inform citizens to ensure we serve their interests.
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
  • Inspire and support Virginians toward healthy lives and strong and resilient families.
  • Protect, conserve and wisely develop our natural, historical and cultural resources.
  • Protect the public’s safety and security, ensuring a fair and effective system of justice and providing a prepared response to emergencies and disasters of all kinds.
Goal 2

Enhance public safety by administering effective dam safety and flood plain management programs.

Goal Summary and Alignment

Dams create impoundments in Virginia to provide waters for drinking and farm water supplies, public recreation and aesthetic purposes, and Virginians need these dams regulated to ensure their safety. DCR protects citizens and lands in Virginia by mapping, identifying, classifying, and regulating dams. Additionally, education of the public and local government promotes compliance with safety requirements and maintenance schedules resulting in increased safety. DCR also works to protect citizens from the impacts of flooding, works to restore stream channels and floodplains to carry the natural flows, and educates citizens about the challenges associated with development within the floodplains.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Engage and inform citizens to ensure we serve their interests.
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
  • Protect the public’s safety and security, ensuring a fair and effective system of justice and providing a prepared response to emergencies and disasters of all kinds.
Goal 3

Improve the quality of Virginia's waters and the Chesapeake Bay through non-point source pollution reduction programs and sound land use management.

Goal Summary and Alignment

Virginia’s waterways and the Chesapeake Bay need to be protected from pollution that is generated from run-off that pollutes Virginia’s streams, rivers, lakes and the Chesapeake Bay. By promoting sound land use management, Virginia’s waterways, and the living systems, economies, and way of life they support, will be protected for future generations.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of our economy.
  • Engage and inform citizens to ensure we serve their interests.
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
  • Inspire and support Virginians toward healthy lives and strong and resilient families.
  • Protect, conserve and wisely develop our natural, historical and cultural resources.
Goal 4

Enhance opportunities to participate in natural resource-based recreation opportunities.

Goal Summary and Alignment

Virginia’s natural resources provide opportunities for many to experience the outdoors through recreational opportunities. Increased awareness of natural resource recreational possibilities can expand usage.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of our economy.
  • Engage and inform citizens to ensure we serve their interests.
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
  • Inspire and support Virginians toward healthy lives and strong and resilient families.
  • Protect, conserve and wisely develop our natural, historical and cultural resources.
Goal 5

Advance the protection, conservation, and stewardship of Virginia's significant natural areas, conservation lands, and natural heritage resources.

Goal Summary and Alignment

DCR is responsible for ensuring that the natural heritage resource lands are preserved for future generations. Programs that promote good stewardship, conservation, and protection help to ensure that these assets will be preserved for Virginians to enjoy and as an economic asset as a tourist attraction.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of our economy.
  • Engage and inform citizens to ensure we serve their interests.
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
  • Inspire and support Virginians toward healthy lives and strong and resilient families.
  • Protect, conserve and wisely develop our natural, historical and cultural resources.
Goal 6

Be recognized as an employer of choice.

Goal Summary and Alignment

Through effective recruitment, hiring, training, recognition, and rewards, the DCR will ensure the retention of highly-skilled and productive employees.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of our economy.
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
Goal 7

Provide efficient and effective administrative support.

Goal Summary and Alignment

DCR's many program units require effective and efficient administrative functions to support the delivery of mission critical products and services. Through increased uses of technology, better process management, and accurate financial reporting, information can be collected from and disseminated to our customers and partners resulting in a high level of customer satisfaction.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Engage and inform citizens to ensure we serve their interests.
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
Goal 8

Strengthen the culture of preparedness across state agencies, their employees and customers

Goal Summary and Alignment

This goal ensures compliance with federal and state regulations, polices and procedures for Commonwealth preparedness, as well as guidelines and best practices promulgated by the Assistant to the Governor for Commonwealth Preparedness, in collaboration with the Governor’s Cabinet, the Commonwealth Preparedness Working Group, the Department of Planning and Budget and the Council on Virginia’s Future. The goal supports achievement of the Commonwealth’s statewide goal of protecting the public's safety and security, ensuring a fair and effective system of justice and providing a prepared response to emergencies and disasters of all kinds.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Elevate the levels of educational preparedness and attainment of our citizens.
  • Protect the public’s safety and security, ensuring a fair and effective system of justice and providing a prepared response to emergencies and disasters of all kinds.
Goal Objectives
  • We will be prepared to act in the interest of the citizens of the Commonwealth and its infrastructure during emergency situations by actively planning and training both as an agency and as individuals.
    Objective Strategies
    • The agency Emergency Coordination Officer will stay in continuous communication with the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and other Commonwealth Preparedness Working Group agencies.
    Link to State Strategy
    • nothing linked
    Objective Measures
    • Agency Preparedness Assessment Score
      Measure Class:
      Other
      Measure Type:
      Outcome
      Measure Frequency:
      Annual
      Preferred Trend:
      Measure Baseline Value:
      Date:
      6/30/2009

      Measure Baseline Description: 2008 Agency Preparedness Assessment Results (% out of 100)

      Measure Target Value:
      75
      Date:
      6/30/2012

      Measure Target Description: Minimum of 75%

      Data Source and Calculation: The Agency Preparedness Assessment is an all-hazards assessment tool that measures agencies’ compliance with requirements and best practices. The assessment has components including Physical Security, Continuity of Operations, Information Security, Vital Records, Fire Safety, Human Resources, Risk Management and Internal Controls, and the National Incident Management System (for Virginia Emergency Response Team – VERT - agencies only).


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