APNEP has a long history of working throughout the Albemarle-Pamlico region in both North Carolina and Virginia, as water from both states ultimately drain into the system’s sounds. Water from 38 counties and cities drain the Paquotank, Chowan, and Roanoke river basins that originate in Virginia and flow into Albemarle Sound. Representatives from Virginia-based organizations on APNEP’s Leadership Council and other committees help give APNEP an interstate perspective, and APNEP continues to work with Virginia-based stakeholders on research, outreach, and data sharing initiatives that will help to keep our estuaries and sounds healthy.
Memorandum of Understanding
In celebration of Estuaries Week, September 19-26, 2020, six environmental and natural resources agencies from North Carolina and Virginia are releasing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that re-affirms their commitment to foster interstate collaboration within the shared waterways of the Albemarle-Pamlico region.
In 2017, APNEP facilitated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR), and VA Secretary of Natural Resources to renew their shared commitment to collaboratively addressing environmental issues in the shared river basins between the two states that flow into Albemarle Sound. The MOU replaces an earlier version signed in 1991, and adresseses topics including expanded communication and cooperation, data and information sharing, climate change and sea level rise, nonpoint source pollution, fish passage and spawning, invasive species, and watershed protection and stewardship.
As a part of this commitment, APNEP and partners have been actively working to revitalize our efforts in Virginia, with current emphasis on the following areas:
Building Capacity for Climate Resilience in the Albemarle-Pamlico Region Tribal Communities Project
APNEP has partnered with the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs (NCCIA) to implement a project designed to support tribal communities in the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed in considering climate resilience during community planning. The project was developed by APNEP in partnership with representatives from tribal communities in the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed and coastal plain and is designed to increase engagement between tribal organizations, government agencies, and university faculty, as well as to acknowledge the unique knowledge and cultural perspectives of tribal communities surrounding climate change impacts.
Virginia Alosa Task Force
APNEP helped organize and chaired meetings of the Virginia Alosa Task Force (VATF) Coordination Committee to encourage coordination of VATF members from Virginia and North Carolina on monitoring and management of andadromous fish (herring and shad) in interjurisdictional waters. The group is working together to share information regarding monitoring in the Albemarle drainage and explore opportunities for coordination and assistance.
Using Natural and Nature-Based Features to Build Resilience to Storm-Driven Flooding
APNEP is a partner on a NOAA Coastal Resilience Grant led by the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences that aims to expand the use of natural and nature-based features as a means of building coastal resilience to storm driven flooding. APNEP will be working with partners and stakeholders to evaluate the feasibility of the approach in 2019-2020.
Stewards of the Southern Watersheds
In 2018, APNEP helped to organize the North Landing River Albemarle Sound Estuarine Symposium in Virginia Beach, which aimed to foster partnerships between Virginia and North Carolina stakeholder groups on topics such as shared waterways, forest and wetland protection, water quality, hydrologic restoration, and adaptation to sea level rise. APNEP is currently assisting partners with development of educational materials and participating in information sessions to educate residents and regional stakeholders about the portion of Virginia's watersheds that flow into Albemarle Sound.
APNEP also worked with Virginia-based partners, including Lynnhaven River NOW and the Virginia Department of Cultural Resources, to organize an workshop for educators in southeast Virginia in July 2019. Teachers working in Virginia Beach's "Southern Watersheds," which stretch south from the more rural, agricultural portion of the city towards the NC-VA state line, often don't know that their waterways drain into Albemarle Sound and not the Chesapeake Bay. The workshop increased knowledge of the unique history and natural resources of this region, as well as its connection to the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system. APNEP created a map of the entire bistate Albemarle Watershed, which includes Virginia's Southern Watershed and North Carolina's Pasquotank River Basin, for use at the workshop and beyond.
Healthy Waters Initiative
APNEP is working with the Virginia Department of Cultural Resources, Natural Heritage Program and other partners to explore opportunities to implement the Chowan Healthy Watersheds Plan and protect conservation land in the Virinia's Southern Watersheds. Virginia's Healthy Watersheds Program employs a proactive approach to protecting ecologically healthy streams, rather than expending resources to restore water quality and ecosystem function after they are damaged.