Shoreline Conservation and the Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle
Northeast Region

UPDATE: July 28, 2011

Bavon beach homeowners met with engineers to view the plan for the offshore breakwater system.


Hear how the Service, landowners and other partners will save Bavon Beach and its special resident, the northeastern beach tiger beetle.
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Losing Habitat to Climate Change: The Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle

The federally listed threatened northeastern beach tiger beetle depends significantly on the remaining beaches of the Chesapeake Bay for recovery. It historically lived on sandy beaches from Massachusetts to Virginia, but the majority of remaining occupied habitat is found in the Bay.

Conserving Virginia's Coast

Restoring the Chesapeake Bay: Contamination, Wetlands and Shorelines

The Chesapeake Bay was the nation's first estuary targeted by Congress for restoration and protection. In May 2009, President Obama reinvigorated and re-focused those efforts through Executive Order 13508, titled: "Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay."

Past restoration efforts targeted contamination, including sediment loading, nitrogen and phosphorus, due to the negative way that they affect fish and wildlife.

  • Sediment loading occurs when loose clay, silt and sand builds up in amounts that cloud the waters, which decreases the sunlight needed by plants at the bottom and smothers other wildlife at the bottom.
  • High levels of nitrogen and phosphorus from human activities increase the growth of algae, reducing the oxygen and blocking out the sunlight that wildlife needs to survive.
  • The restoration of wetlands has also been essential to conserving the natural cleansing functions that intact wetlands have in watersheds.

The President's order emphasizes that a broad suite of resource values and objectives are needed "to protect and restore the health, heritage, natural resources, and social and economic value of the nation's largest estuarine ecosystem and the natural sustainability of its watershed." The Chesapeake Bay shorelines are a component of the Bay that provide a unique set of ecosystem services and support numerous specialized flora and fauna that contribute to the diversity of the Bay ecosystem.

Sharing the shoreline: People, wildlife and the beach

Within the Chesapeake Bay, there are many different shoreline types and conditions that contribute to the overall function of the coastal ecosystem. Though the beaches and sandy shorelines are inherently unstable, they are the most desirable areas for residential and recreational development.

The beaches are created and maintained by the forces of wave action, wind, sediment transport and erosion. In a naturally functioning system, these features are highly dynamic, and they migrate, appear and disappear based on the interactions of these forces.

About 85 percent of the Bay's shoreline is in private ownership, and development along the Bay beaches results in efforts to protect property from the same forces that maintain the beaches. These beaches are lost, reduced in extent or significantly degraded by shoreline hardening with structures such as revetments, bulkheads and groins.

The Chesapeake Bay estuarine wetlands in Maryland and Virginia have declined by about 50 percent since 1937. Shoreline erosion and inundation rates within the Bay continue to increase due to sea-level rise induced by climate change and runoff from impervious layers within the watershed.

As shorelines erode, property owners more frequently implement shoreline-hardening projects to protect their properties. In most cases, these hardened structures result in loss of tiger beetle and coastal beach habitats and increasing fragmentation of these formerly expansive and contiguous habitats.

Other links:
The Bay and its health
History of the Bay
Wildlife of the Bay
Water quality of the Bay

Bavon Beach in History

The area is home to the third oldest lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay and was a U.S. Army anti-aircraft training camp during WWII.

Get to know Bavon Beach through pictures of its coast, wildlife and people.
See full-size photos and captions.

Restoring the Chesapeake Bay:
Contamination, Wetlands and Shorelines

Local, state and federal environmental agencies have focused on the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the U.S., for some time.

Related Links:

Northeastern beach tiger beetle

Chesapeake Shores HOA

Chesapeake Bay Program

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Bay Executive Order

TNC, New Point Comfort Virginia guidebook for Natural Area Preserves (Page 5) (PDF - 2.45MB)

Last updated: March 20, 2013