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 the Conservancy 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 2017, the Corps has authorized over $48 million for the Conservancy to pursue 126 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 see “Using the Trust Fund” or contact Suzy Sidharta at ssidharta@tnc.org.
EXPLORE MORE TRUST FUND PAGES >> Using the Trust Fund / Who Approves Trust Fund Projects

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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.

EXPLORE MORE TRUST FUND PAGES >> Using the Trust Fund / Who Approves Trust Fund Projects
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Snapshots of Projects

Through the end of 2017, the Corps has authorized over $48 million for the Conservancy to pursue 126 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 annual report.

  • Non-tidal wetlands – 485 acres of restoration, over 4,000 acres of preservation
  • Tidal wetlands – 28 acres of restoration, over 500 acres of preservation, Phragmites eradication, oyster reef restoration, submerged aquatic vegetation restoration
  • Stream channel restoration and enhancement activities along 49,355 linear feet (lf)
  • Riparian buffer planting along 15,680 lf
  • Livestock exclusion along 23,799 lf
  • Stream and riparian buffer preservation along 669,727 lf
  • Upland and riparian buffer preservation of 5,900 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