The Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund (Trust Fund) is a mitigation program which acquires stream and wetland conservation projects throughout Virginia in order to compensate for impacts to streams and wetlands permitted by state and federal regulatory agencies. The Trust Fund is dedicated to replacing the greatest value in terms of acreage and function, while providing a specific emphasis on protecting Virginia’s rare plants, animals, and natural communities.
The Trust Fund is administered in partnership with the United States Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District (Corps), the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and The Nature Conservancy in Virginia (Conservancy) and was created in part to provide permit applicants another mitigation tool. If an individual proposes to impact a regulated stream or wetland, the individual may be given the option to purchase credits from the Trust Fund. The use of the Trust Fund as a mitigation option is provided by the 2008 “Mitigation Rule” (33 CFR 332) and under the guidance of the appropriate regulatory agencies.
Generally, the Trust Fund consolidates money from many projects with small impacts (less than 1 acre) and pools the resources to accomplish larger projects that have a greater chance of ecological success. These funds are then used, upon approval from the Corps and DEQ, by the Conservancy to implement projects involving the restoration, enhancement and preservation of wetlands and streams.
The Trust Fund helps make large-scale conservation possible. The program is able to implement large-scale watershed efforts that restore, enhance, and protect water quality through cost-effective, ecologically preferable projects.
By using the Conservancy’s conservation planning, projects are part of ongoing conservation initiatives with comprehensive ecological management plans. The Trust Fund utilizes an extensive Compensation Planning Framework that drives where the Conservancy looks for appropriate projects. Mitigation sites therefore are most often located within a conservation area that provides greater ecological benefit than would an isolated project.
Through the Trust Fund, The Nature Conservancy and its conservation partners conduct restoration and preservation activities in the same watersheds where wetland and stream disturbances have occurred. In addition, the Trust Fund is cost-effective as land is often donated or purchased at less than or equal to fair market value. These savings can then be used for additional mitigation projects.
2012 Main Report (submitted to Corps for public notice)
Map of Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund Project Sites
Summaries of VARTF Approved Projects by Major River Basins (in progress)
Project Credit Balances and Service Areas within Major River Basins
Map of Chowan Conservation Corridor
Map of Dragon Run Conservation Corridor
June 17, 2013