Elizabeth River Watershed

Characteristic  Information  Source 
  • The Elizabeth River Watershed is on the west side of the City, and shares boundaries with
    Click to enlarge map

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

*Primary sources referenced in this table are listed at the bottom of the page. They include: City of Virginia Beach Sea Level Wise Report and City of Virginia Beach Comprehensive plan.
Size (shoreline and acreage drained)
  • Watershed 9300 acres
  • 10.6mi shoreline (approx)
City of Virginia Beach- Shoreline Assessment Mapper
Population density
Land Use (urban/rural)  City of VB Sea Level Wise Report, p.136
  • Land elevations highest in all the watersheds with only 3% of the tidal land under 3ft elevation
City of VB Sea Level Wise Report 
% owned by the state or Federal
  • None
Names of Federal or State properties
  • No federal or state open space areas
City of VB Comprehensive Plan 
Major Bodies of Water and salinity
  • Lake Edward, freshwater
  • Diamond Lake, freshwater
  • Eastern Branch Elizabeth River, brackish–salinity is high enough to support oyster restoration
Sea Level Wise Report- Adaptation Strategy, p.147
  • Moon driven tides
  • Flood risks due to increased urbanization, degradation of naturalized landscapes, aging infrastructure and sea level rise.
  • Marked as severely degraded
Recreation Areas (access points, natural areas, parks)
  • Carolanne Farms Park
    (375 Gainsborough Drive)
    Provides access to the Elizabeth River
    *approximately 300 yards from parking area to kayak/canoe launch
  • Woodstock Park
    (5709 Providence Rd, VB 23464)
  • Ferry Point Park (5544 Normandy Ave, VB 23464) *Opened 2019; 9 acres of wetlands and forest; Living River Restoration Trust newest land conservation nonprofit (Cova Biz, 2019) 
  • Neighborhood Parks in the Elizabeth River watershed
City of Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation Department links:




  • Click to view map of LRNow’s Pearl Schools located in the Elizabeth River Watershed.


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 
  • 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 BrochureSpecial thanks to LRNow’s Clay Bernick. Clay was a major contributor to much of the information provided in this Brochure.
Urban Tree Canopy Click on the map icon to enlarge:
City of Virginia Beach Comprehensive Plan pages. 122-123
  • High Marsh dominates with some coverage of salt marsh, woody wetlands and scrub
Sea Level Wise Report
  • young blue crab, baby spot and croaker, some oyster toadfish, small summer flounder, eastern oyster, river otter, Red Drum, great egret, bald eagle, marsh fiddler crab
  • muskrats, raccoons
  • crested cormorant, plover, common tern, snowy egret, gulls, coot, black duck, Heron, bald eagle 
Elizabeth River Project Eastern Branch Brochure

ERP Learning Barge River Facts 

City of VB-Elizabeth River Nature Trail Brochure


Other Organisms


Background Information 

Characteristic  Information  Source 
  • 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. 
VB History Kempsville

PilotOnline History of Kempsville

Misc. Political/Voting  Senate 7
House 85
City Council: Centerville 1, Kempsville 2, Bayside 4


City of Virginia Beach Comprehensive Plan. (2016). It’s Our Future: A Choice City. Retrieved from

City of Virginia Beach. (2020). Virginia Beach Sea Level Wise Adaptation Strategy. Retrieved from

Elizabeth River Project. (2014). Eastern Branch Environmental Restoration Strategy. Retrieved from

Additional Source Links:

Elizabeth River Trail Access:




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