North Landing River Watershed
  • 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.

*Primary sources referenced in this table are listed at the bottom of the page.

  • Dept of Conservation and Historic Resources. (1987). The North Landing Scenic River System.


Size (shoreline and acreage drained)
  • 62,965 acres covering 32.1% of the city of Virginia Beach.
  • City of Virginia Beach Comprehensive Plan. (2016). p. 112.
Population Density
  • 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 forty-five percent of the land, or 32,633 acres. 
  • Residential uses, commercial buildings, and roadways cover another 12,997 acres of the basin or eighteen percent of the land area. 
  • The remaining 26,164 acres are undeveloped.
  • Flat topography and high shallow water tables
  • The physiography of the area consists of narrow, subdued, well drained ridges; broad, poorly drained flats; and coastal area.
  • Strategic Plan p. 55
  • Section 2.2
Property owned owned by city, state, federal & nonprofit
  • Nonprofit :The Nature Conservancy and the commonwealth of Virginia (DCR) owns and manages more than ten thousand acres.
  • Local: The City of Virginia Beach purchased a 1,422 acre property known as Stumpy Lake in 2001 from the City of Norfolk. 
  • State: Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) owns 3,441 Acres. 
  • Federal: United States Navy % n/a
Names of Federal or State properties
  • North Landing River Natural Area Preserve*This preserve remains closed to public access due to staffing shortfalls.
  • Naval Station Oceana 
Major Bodies of water and salinity
  • North Landing River: Brackish *The Pocaty River, Blackwater Creek, West Neck Creek are separate stretches of the North Landing River System.
  • Stumpy Lake: Freshwater; part of our regional freshwater water supply system for Norfolk.
  • Intercoastal Waterway: Brackish 
  • West Neck Creek: Brackish
  • High salinity below Munden Point.

*Wind driven tides affect salinity.






  • Wind driven: winds blowing from the east push sea water through the Currituck Inlet and farther northward causing irregular water level fluctuations on the North Landing River (DCR,n.d.).
Recreation Areas (access points, natural areas, parks)
  • Stumpy Lake Canoe /Kayak Launch:4797 Indian River Road; Designed for non-motorized Vessels; ADA Compliant 
  • Munden Point Park: 2001 Pefley Lane, Virginia Beach;100-acre park located at the leg of the intercoastal waterway
  • Pungo Ferry Landing Park/ Boat Launch: 2272 Old Pungo Ferry Rd; 20-acre park; Boat ramp-no launch fees; soft canoe/kayak launch (approx 30-yards from parking to launch area); fishing area-freshwater license required. 
  • Blackwater Trading Post Boat Ramp: 5605 Blackwater Rd, Virginia Beach, VA; Fuel Station, Boat Launch ($4 launch fee) & Convenience Store.
  • Water Access Points- VB Comp Plan. p.120

water access North Landing River

Other/ Fun Facts
  • 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, p.188
  • Messina, D. A Jewel of Nature; The Beacon
Urban Tree Canopy

Estuarine/Marine wetlands and freshwater forested shrub wetland
Cypress/tupelo swamp
freshwater marshes, pocosins and forested swamps.
Pocosins are peat bogs where unusual plants grow, including the pink spreading pogonia.

  • Uncommon Wealth, p.190 
  • sunfish, American Shad, white catfish, white perch, striped bass
  • cottonmouths and canebrake rattlesnakes and endangered Virginia species
  • Birds- great blue heron, bald eagle, osprey
Other Organisms
  • supports 50+ rare species
Background Information
Misc. Advocacy/Voting/Policy

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

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

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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: 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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