The North Landing River watershed is the largest in the city. The North Landing River has an amazing diversity of flora and fauna and is mostly undiscovered by the residents of Virginia Beach. It is Virginia Beach’s only State Scenic River.
Southwestern portion of Virginia Beach.
Begins in the heart of Kempsville, a highly developed area.
Water flows in a southeasterly direction though the cities of Virginia Beach (on the east) and Chesapeake (on the west), emptying into the Albemarle-Pamlico Sounds and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean.
A vital link in the Intercoastal Waterway.
Dept of Conservation and Historic Resources (1987) – The North Landing Scenic River System.
Size (shoreline and acreage drained)
Covering 32.1% of the city of Virginia Beach.
City of VB Comprehensive Plan (2016) page 112
Lowest population density in all of Virginia Beach with urban and suburban development in the northern portion.
Land Use (urban/rural)
A mix of agricultural, waterfront, commercial, residential and public developments.
Much of the land in the southern part of the watershed is rural and contains farms averaging 200 acres or less.
The North Landing River Watershed encompasses an area of 74,635 acres with 2,841 of these acres located in open waters.
Agriculture is the primary land use in the watershed, occupying 45% of the land, or 32,633 acres.
Residential uses, commercial buildings, and roadways cover another 12,997 acres of the basin or 18% of the land area.
Stumpy Lake: In 1910, Norfolk dammed off a section of the North Landing River watershed called Gum Springs Swamp to create the lake as part of it’s water supply. The shallow lake got its name from the stumps of cypress and tupleo trees which are visible when the water is low.
Barrow, 1999, The Virginian Pilot p. B9
Flora And Fauna
The North Landing River is one of the most ecologically diverse natural areas in Virginia. Fragile wetlands made up of Pocosins, peat bogs with an impenetrable tangle of shrubs cover the North Landing River watershed. Along the Atlantic Flyway, the wetlands provide a winter haven and breeding ground for songbirds and waterfowl. It contains one of the largest great blue heron rookeries in the commonwealth.
Dense understory of evergreen shrubs including inkberry, wax myrtle, blue pickerelweed fetterbrush
Trees such as pond pine, atlantic white cedar, red bay, sweetbay occur as scattered individuals scattered through the shrub bog.
Hardwood forest, pinewood forest, black gum, tupelo, cypress.
Vines, grasses and other: greenbrier, sawgrass, butterfly milkweed, the Carolina lileopsis.
Uncommon Wealth, page 188
Messina, D. A Jewel of Nature; The Beacon
Urban Tree Canopy
Estuarine/Marine wetlands and freshwater forested shrub wetland
Pocosins are peat bogs where unusual plants grow, including the pink spreading pogonia.
Uncommon Wealth, page 190
Sunfish, American shad, white catfish, white perch, striped bass
Cottonmouths and canebrake rattlesnakes -endangered Virginia species
Just before British arrived, the region inhabited by the Chesapean Native Americans was massacred by Powhatan Chief – Wahunsenacawh.
Early settlers in region were fishermen, whalers, trappers, logging, small farms, pirating, shingles, tar, pitch.
1859- Opening of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal system linking the Elizabeth River with the North Landing River.
A Baptist congregation began having services near Pungo Ferry as early as 1674. What later became the Oak Grove Baptist Church held baptisms in the North Landing River near that site. This is the second oldest Baptist congregation in Virginia.
The Blackwater Baptist Church was established in 1774, and another mission followed at Princess Anne Court House in 1784.
Anne Nimmo dedicated an acre of land to the congregation of the Nimmo United Methodist Church for a church building. The church building was constructed shortly after and has been the site of temperance meetings, camps, and was used as a federal hospital during the Civil War.
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