Charlottesville's Meadow Creek is one of the largest urban stream restoration projects in Virginia to date.  9,000 linear feet were restored, preserving 12 acres of wetlands.
Meadow Creek Charlottesville's Meadow Creek is one of the largest urban stream restoration projects in Virginia to date. 9,000 linear feet were restored, preserving 12 acres of wetlands. © Jennifer Dalke / TNC

Stories in Virginia

Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund

The Trust Fund helps TNC make large-scale freshwater conservation in Virginia possible.

TRUST FUND HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Trust Fund program was established in 1995, amended in 2003, and a new operating agreement was signed in 2011.
  • Through the end of 2018, the Corps has authorized over $60 million for the Conservancy to pursue 134 mitigation projects.
  • If you are interested in submitting a project for potential funding through the Trust Fund, please contact Karen Johnson at 804-249-3416.
  • If you are interested in purchasing mitigation credits from the Trust Fund, please contact Suzy Sidharta at ssidharta@tnc.org.
  • Cumberland Marsh is home to the world's largest population of the rare sensitive joint-vetch.

    Purchasing and Approval of Mitigation Credits

    Mitigation credits are available to meet the needs of the regulated community. Using the Trust Fund

Trust Fund Overview

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.

Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund Activities in 2018.
VARTF Activities in 2018 For a larger version of this map, download the PDF below. © TNC
  • Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund Activities in 2018.

    Program Activities 2018

    (841.66 KB PDF)

    Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund activities across the commonwealth.

    DOWNLOAD

Request for Proposal: Potomac River Basin

The Nature Conservancy is soliciting proposals for full-delivery services for tidal wetland mitigation projects in the Potomac River Basin in Virginia.

The purpose of the project is to provide wetland mitigation to offset unavoidable impacts for which the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund (VARTF) was utilized as the compensatory mitigation.  TNC is seeking projects that will deliver 1.75 or more tidal wetland credits and can service the Potomac River basin.

The primary objectives are to restore, enhance and/or preserve wetland systems to address the credit needs in the Potomac River Basin. In general, wetland mitigation is comprised of activities that create, restore, enhance or preserve wetland resources.  Such activities improve wetland functions and may result in gain of wetland acreage in the case of creation and restoration. The Conservancy will also consider lump sum purchase of tidal wetland credits from an approved mitigation bank or banks.

Addendum #1 is being issued to clarify the considerations that should be taken for tidal sites in response to sea level rise (SLR). TNC currently includes these items in other project selections and design considerations for tidal/coastal sites, though we are emphasizing our request to consultants to adapt this mitigation project to sea level rise and other climate-related impacts. 

Proposals must be received by 11:59 p.m. on September 30, 2019 (or as specified in any addenda to the RFP).

Requests for Proposals

  • Request for proposal for tidal wetlands projects or credit purchased in the Potomac River Basin of Virginia. Issued April 10, 2019.

    Tidal Wetlands

    (1.75 MB PDF)

    Request for proposals for tidal wetlands projects or credits purchased in the Potomac River Basin of Virginia. Issued April 10, 2019.

    DOWNLOAD
  • Tidal Wetlands Addendum #1

    (84.21 KB PDF)

    Addendum to clarify the considerations that should be taken for tidal sites in response to sea level rise (SLR). Issued July 12, 2019.

    DOWNLOAD
  • Request for proposal for non-tidal wetlands projects or credit purchased in the Potomac River Basin of Virginia. Issued June 21, 2019.

    Non-Tidal Wetlands

    (1.95 MB PDF)

    Request for proposal for non-tidal wetlands projects or credit purchased in the Potomac River Basin of Virginia. Issued June 21, 2019.

    DOWNLOAD

Snapshot of Projects

Through the end of 2018, the Corps has authorized over $60 million for the Conservancy to pursue 134 mitigation projects.

These projects attempt to achieve the overall programmatic goal of water quality improvement through the creation, restoration, and enhancement of wetlands and streams and through the restoration and enhancement of the surrounding upland buffers. The Trust Fund also achieves the preservation of highly functional wetlands, stream and buffer areas which add to water quality protection and improvement. 

The Trust Fund received funding approvals for the following mitigation activities. Details of these projects are included in the 2018 annual report.

  • Non-tidal wetlands – 650 acres of restoration, over 4,000 acres of preservation
  • Tidal wetlands – 70 acres of restoration, over 350 acres of preservation, Phragmites eradication, oyster reef restoration, submerged aquatic vegetation restoration
  • Stream channel restoration and enhancement activities along 92,000 linear feet (lf)
  • Upland buffer planting of 630 acres
  • Livestock exclusion along 48,000 lf
  • Stream and riparian buffer preservation along 650,000 lf
  • Upland and riparian buffer preservation of 4,600 acres
  • Protection of over 10,000 additional acres – not considered as mitigation
  • Establishment or additions to six state Natural Area Preserves and three state Wildlife Management Areas
  • Restored streams within three city or county parks

TRUST FUND DOWNLOADS (PDF)

Trust Fund Annual Reports