Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund

Freshwater Conservation in Virginia

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

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 

Snapshot of Recent/Ongoing Projects »
Using the Trust Fund / Who Approves Trust Fund Projects»

Trust Fund Downloads (pdf)
Trust Fund Instrument

VARTF Program Instrument
Exhbit A - Comp Planning Framework
Exhibit B - Advanced Credits
Exhibit C - Standard Ratios
Exhibit D - Fee Schedule

Trust Fund Annual Reports and Supporting Documentation

2016 Main Report

2015 Main Report

Supporting Documentation

Map of Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund Project Sites (2016)
Summaries of VARTF Approved Projects by Major River Basins
Project Credit Balances and Service Areas within Major River Basins

Map of Chowan Conservation Corridor
Map of Dragon Run Conservation Corridor


VARTF 2016 Audit Memo 5.11.16

Environmental Law Institute VARTF Program Audit Report 

Hantzmon Wiebel VARTF Final Communication Letter 

Hantzmon Wiebel VARTF Final Management Letter 

Hantzmon Wiebel VARTF Final Statements


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