Glossary Of Terms

Fairfax County's Tidal Shoreline and Wetlands  
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 When and What Permits are Required | How To Apply for a Wetlands Permit  | Sources for Additional Information About Permitting | Glossary of Terms

Tidal Wetlands Beach – Shoreline zone comprised of unconsolidated sandy material upon which there is a mutual interaction of the forces of erosion, sediment transport and deposition that extends from the low water line landward to where there is a marked change in either material composition or physiographic form or to the line of woody vegetation (usually the effective limit of stormwaves), or the nearest impermeable man-made structure, such as a bulkhead, revetment, or paved road.

Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance - Chapter 118 of the Code of Fairfax County ; the Ordinance adopted by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on March 22, 1993, to meet the requirements established by the Code of Virginia, Section 10.1-2100, Chapter 21, known as the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act.  The ordinance was adopted for the purposes of encouraging and promoting the protection of state waters and to preserve the habitat, which those waters provide, as well as to reduce existing pollution in the state waters and to prevent further pollution.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – This federal agency, which traces its origins back to the Continental Congress in 1775, has played a major role in civil and public works projects over the years.  The Corps oversees the federal regulatory role in the implementation and administration of The Clean Water Act. 

Erosion control – Measures used to prevent movement of sediment onto neighboring properties or into state waters; such movement of sediment is usually caused by excavation, clearing, grading and is exacerbated by the natural forces of wind and rain.

Fairfax County Wetlands Board – Seven members and one alternate member appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and created on October 17, 1983, to meet the provisions of title 28.2, Chapter 13, Section 28.2-1300 of the Code of Virginia, Chapter 116 of the Code of Fairfax County, known as the Wetlands Zoning Ordinance .  The Wetlands Board also administers Chapter 14, Section 28.2 – 1400 of the Code of Virginia  and Chapter 123 of the Code of Fairfax County, the Coastal Primary Sand Dune (Beach) Zoning Ordinance.

Floodplain – Those land areas in and adjacent to streams and watercourses subject to continuous or periodic inundation from flood events with a one (1) percent chance of occurrence in any given year (i.e. the 100-year flood frequency event) and having a drainage area greater than 70 acres.

Mean low water line – A contour line on a drawing that shows the channelward limits of an average low tide.

Mean tide range – Mean high water and mean low water are defined as the average vertical elevation of all high water tides and low water tides, respectively that have occurred during the 19 year lunar cycle.

Non-vegetated wetlands – Unvegetated lands lying contiguous to mean low water and between mean low water and mean high water.

Resource Protection Area (RPA) – That component of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area comprised of lands at or near the shoreline or water’s edge that have an intrinsic water quality value due to the ecological and biological processes they perform or are sensitive to impacts which may result in significant degradation of the quality of state waters.  In their natural condition, these lands provide for the removal, reduction or assimilation of sediments and nutrients and potentially harmful or toxic substances from runoff entering the Bay and its tributaries.

Riprap Revetment – Rock strategically placed on the shoreline or at the water’s edge to slow erosion caused by wave action.

Tidal wetlands – Lands lying between and contiguous to mean low water and between mean low water and mean high water subject to flooding by normal tides and wind tides.

Tide – The periodic rise and fall of water (in oceans, bays, gulfs, inlets and tidal regions of rivers) resulting from the gravitational interactions between the sun, moon, and earth.

Vegetated wetlands – Lands lying between and contiguous to mean low water and an elevation above mean low water equal to the factor on and one-half times the mean tide range.  Vegetated wetlands are lands, which are inundated, and saturated by surface and groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support vegetation adapted to life in saturated soil.

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality – Department of the Commonwealth of Virginia formed in 1993 under the authority of the executive branch involved in regulating and permitting related to water, air and waste

Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) – Agency of the Commonwealth that is responsible for marine management, which seeks to protect the living resources and the habitat of those resources. In addition, the VMRC maintains responsibility for permitting encroachments in or over State-owned submerged lands and oversees the administration of the following laws:

  • The Virginia Wetlands Act was passed in 1972 and placed under the management of VMRC;
  • The 1980 Coastal Primary Sand Dune Protection Act;
  • In 1982, the General Assembly broadened the 1972 Wetlands Act to include non-vegetated wetlands;
  • In 1984, a distinct Fisheries Management Division was created and its authority over fisheries issues was strengthened.
    (Originally established in 1875 as the Virginia Fish Commission, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) was re-named by an act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1968.)  

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