BOEM and Virginia Sign Agreement to Evaluate Sand Resources for Coastal Resilience and Restoration Planning

05-28-2014 WASHINGTON

Contact: Marjorie Weisskohl
703-787-1304

As part of President Obama’s continuing commitment to help coastal communities recover from Hurricane Sandy and promote resilient coastal systems, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Commonwealth of Virginia signed a two-year cooperative agreement totaling $199,472 to evaluate sand resources for coastal resilience and restoration planning. The agreement will help BOEM and Virginia conduct research that will assist coastal communities recovering from Hurricane Sandy, restore habitat, increase our knowledge of sand resources offshore, and contribute to long-term coastal resilience planning efforts.

Under this agreement, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), Division of Geology and Mineral Resources, with support from the College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, will focus on assessing sand resources to support a range of activities, including shoreline and habitat restoration. The researchers will review existing marine geological studies to assist BOEM in identifying federal sand resources offshore Virginia.

“Maintaining our long-standing partnership with Virginia comes at an important time, when they are working to recover from the impact of Hurricane Sandy and build resilience for the future,” said BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank.

Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones applauded the partnerships between the Commonwealth and federal agencies.

“Virginia is happy to work with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in expanding our capacity to manage these resources in federal waters. The results of this partnership will keep our unique coastline safe, in business and sustainable for years to come,” Jones said.

BOEM has issued negotiated noncompetitive leases for OCS sand for coastal restoration projects at Sandbridge Beach, Dam Neck, and Wallops Island, Virginia. BOEM has participated with Virginia on past cooperative agreements for marine mineral resources; some of the new data that will be evaluated was collected from a separate BOEM-DMME partnership to characterize the offshore Virginia Wind Energy Area.

BOEM scientists will assist Virginia over the course of this agreement to identify areas for future detailed geophysical and geological surveys, with the purpose of confirming previously identified sand resources and locating new potential areas of sand resources. The researchers will analyze samples from a previous BOEM survey to determine the economic potential of heavy mineral (black) sands, naturally present in some sand deposits, which could provide cost-offset value for future coastal restoration projects. BOEM will also help Virginia integrate its existing data and new analyses to more readily share it with other agencies involved in coastal resiliency planning.

Such activities are essential for reducing potential storm damage to the residents, economies, and infrastructure of Virginia’s coastal areas. Research funded under this agreement will help ensure that activities including offshore dredging and beach nourishment are conducted in a sustainable manner that is compatible with natural sediment transport and biological processes, as well as stakeholder interests.

This agreement is part of a series of partnerships with coastal Atlantic states using part of the $13.6 million allocated to BOEM through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. The research will help to help identify sand and gravel resources that are appropriate for coastal protection and restoration along the entire Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

Since Hurricane Sandy struck, BOEM has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, other members of the Federal government’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force, state coastal planning agencies, state geological surveys and other entities to analyze the needs for coastal restoration and to develop restoration plans.

BOEM has the authority to convey, on a noncompetitive basis, the rights to resources for shore protection, beach or wetland restoration projects, or for use in construction projects funded in whole or part, or authorized by the federal government. In exercising this authority, BOEM may issue a negotiated non-competitive lease agreement for the use of OCS sand to a qualifying entity.

Over the past 20 years, BOEM has invested more than $30 million to identify non-energy resources on the OCS, conduct world-class scientific research, and lease OCS resources to coastal communities in need. Information from environmental research and resource identification has informed environmental assessment and leasing decisions concerning the use of OCS sand resources in beach nourishment and coastal restoration. For more information on BOEM's Marine Minerals Program, visit: http://www.boem.gov/Marine-Minerals-Program.

BOEM promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of offshore conventional and renewable energy and marine mineral resources.