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Elizabeth River Watershed
About

The Elizabeth River is home to a thriving community that enjoys recreational amenities along the tidal urban river and creeks.

Characteristic 
Information
Source
Location
  • The Elizabeth River Watershed is on the west side of the City, and shares boundaries with the cities of Norfolk and Chesapeake.

Size (shoreline & acreage drained)
  • Watershed 9300 acres
  • 10.6mi shoreline (approx)

Topography
  • Land elevations highest in all the watersheds with only 3% of the tidal land under 3ft elevation.
% owned by State or Federal
  • 0%
Names of Federal or State properties
  • No Federal or state open space areas
Major Bodies of Water and Salinity
  • Lake James, freshwater 
  • Lake Edward, freshwater
  • Diamond Lake, freshwater
  • Eastern Branch Elizabeth River, brackish
    • Salinity is high enough to support oyster restoration
Tides
  • Lunar Tides
Recreation Areas (access points, natural areas, parks)
Flora and Fauna

The Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River watershed contains both freshwater and saltwater marshlands along with a variety of plants and animals unique to the area. It’s hardwood forest provide support for vines and shade for shrubs as well as homes, food and protection for animals such as birds and squirrels.

Characteristic
Information
Source
Plants
  • Trees: Live oaks, red maples, dogwood, sycamore, American elm, river birch, american holly, red bud, coniferous, loblolly pines, bald cypress, sweet gum and hickories.
  • Shrubs, vines and grasses including (but not limited to): poison ivy, greenbrier, Virginia creeper, elderberry, wild rose, black cherry, honeysuckle, needlerush and blue-eyed grass
  • City of VB Elizabeth River Nature and Canoe Trail Brochure
    • *Special thanks to LRNow’s Clay Bernick. Clay was a major contributor to much of the information provided in this Brochure.
Urban Tree Canopy

Wetlands
  • High Marsh dominates with some coverage of salt marsh, woody wetlands and scrub
Animals
  • Young blue crab, baby spot and croaker, some oyster toadfish, small summer flounder, eastern oyster, red drum, marsh fiddler crab
  • Muskrats, raccoons, river otter
  • Crested cormorant, plover, common tern, snowy egret, gulls, coot, black duck, heron, bald eagle, great egret
Threats
  • Flood risks due to increased urbanization, degradation of naturalized landscapes, aging infrastructure and sea level rise.
  • Marked as severely degraded
Background Information
Characteristic
Information
Source
History
  • Colonial port for sailing ships at Kemp’s Landing (now Kempsville).
  • John Ackiss was the first Virginia casualty of the American Revolution in the 1775 Skirmish of Kempsville.
  • Pleasant Hall, 317 S. Princess Anne Road, used as headquarters by Lord Dunmore in the early days of the Revolutionary War.
  • Courthouse moved to New Town on the North side of the Eastern Branch of Elizabeth River in 1758
  • Courthouse was located in Kemps Landing, in now Kempsville area, from 1778-1784
    Carraway House-oldest surviving structure in Kempsville. 317 S Witchduck. Built 1735
  • Former Oyster Mecca-Oyster shells were used to form the foundation of “Shell Road” now Indian River Road in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake
  • Lake James
     94-acre water body; est. in 1984 as a stormwater pond
  • Ferry Point Park
    Opened 2019; 9 acres of wetlands and forest; Living River Restoration Trust newest land conservation nonprofit  (Cova Biz, 2019) 
Misc.
  • Senate 7
    House 85
    City Council: Centerville 1, Kempsville 2, Bayside 4
  • Click to view map of LRNow’s Pearl Schools located in the Elizabeth River Watershed.
HOW YOU CAN HELP THE ENVIRONMENT
PEARL HOMES & NEIGHBORHOODS

PEARL HOMES are places where people care about our environment and want to do what they can to help protect our resources.

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PEARL SCHOOLS

Lynnhaven River NOW recognizes schools providing outstanding environmental education as a Pearl School.

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PEARL BUSINESSES

PEARL BUSINESSES are essential to truly move towards a more sustainable Virginia Beach and cleaner waters.

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PEARL FAITH

We all want to do our part to restore the health of all of our sacred waterways and protect them for future generations to enjoy.

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SUSTAINABLE YARDS PROGRAM

SUSTAINABLE YARDS PROGRAM: Let us help you “green” your Lynnhaven watershed home. This unique program provides specific stormwater management practices to your yard at a significantly reduced cost to you.

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