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6 Va. J. Nat. Resources L. 375 (1986-1987)
Development of Barrier Islands in Virbinia

handle is hein.journals/velj6 and id is 381 raw text is: DEVELOPMENT OF BARRIER ISLANDS IN VIRGINIA
by James J. Szablewicz*
Approximately three miles off the Atlantic coast of Virginia's
Eastern Shore lies little Cedar Island, a seven and one-half mile
long barrier island, measuring just two miles across at its widest
point and a mere 520 feet at its narrowest.' Eighteen small cot-
tages, none of them permanent residences, have been present on
both ends of the island since the early 1950's.2 The piping plover, a
shorebird now on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's
threatened list, nests on the island's narrow, low-lying beach.3 A
great number of other migratory waterfowl find Cedar Island a
perfect habitat for a few days' or a few weeks' rest from their ardu-
ous journeys. Large populations of clams, oysters, and summer
flounder thrive in the extensive marshes and lagoons to the island's
west, between the island and the mainland.4 The inlets and chan-
nels that connect this marsh-estuary with the Atlantic Ocean serve
as important nursery areas for juvenile loggerhead and Atlantic
ridley sea turtles.5 And in early 1986, Cedar Island became the
home of a heavy-duty dock, bulldozers and other heavy equipment,
** Staff Member, Virginia Journal of Natural Resources Law.
Eastern Shore News, Jan. 22, 1986, at 1, col. 1.
Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Preliminary Assessment of the Proposed Develop-
ment of Cedar Island, Virginia, at 1-2 ('May 23, 1986) [hereinafter VIMS]. Because the
cottages are scattered around the island, their impact upon the environment has been mini-
mal. VIMS at 5. The likely effect of developing up to 100 lots is difficult to ascertain. The
VIMS assessment calls for: 1) the preparation of a development plan outlining what has
been proposed and the sort of infrastructure that would be needed to support this develop-
ment; 2) the stabilization of Cedar Island's constantly shifting beach in order to protect the
investments of residents; and 3) a clarification of the rights and responsibilities of the Vir-
ginia Marine Resources Commission as to the development of Cedar Island's shores and
wetlands. VIMS at 7-8.
' Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Habitat Management Division Evaluation, at 2
(May 27, 1986) [hereinafter Evaluation]. The Evaluation outlines the current debate over
land use on Cedar Island and emphasizes that the impact of development on the ecosystem
is unknown. The Commission noted in the evaluation that it would not take any action until
it received more information on the effect proposed development would have on wetlands
and the coastal primary sand dune. Subsequently, the Commission promulgated a Barrier
Island Policy and Supplemental Guidelines, see infra text accompanying notes 135-43, and
it issued several permits for Cedar Island development, see infra text accompanying notes
Id. at 1.
' Id. at 2.

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