Functions of Flood Plain

The coastal floodplains in and around Hampton often contain wetlands and other important ecological areas that directly impact water quality and the habitat of various flora and fauna.

One of the most significant undeveloped floodplains within Hampton is the Grandview Nature Preserve, located in the northeast corner of the City at the entrance to Back River. This pristine preserve covers 475 acres of salt marsh, tidal creeks, and 2 1/2 miles of secluded Chesapeake Bay beachfront. Much of Grandview has been Federally-designated as part of the Coastal Barrier Resource System to protect the land from further development.

The beaches along Buckroe and Fort Monroe act as barrier islands. The land-water interface is fragile, highly dynamic, subject to storm actions, and very desirable for residential development. All of these factors can change the nature of the beaches dramatically from year to year, and century to century. Like Grandview, the beaches provide important storm protection for the interior shorelines along Salt Ponds and Mill Creek. These coastal barrier beaches are refuges for wildlife, and the salt marsh ecosystem provides habitat for distinct animal and plant life.

The distinctive ecosystem of floodplains, wetlands and water bodies, large and small, is marked by a diverse population of plants and animals that provide habitat and critical sources of energy and nutrients for organisms in adjacent terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Undisturbed estuarine wetlands, such as those found in Air Power Park, Bluebird Gap Farm, and Gosnold's Hope Park, serve as breeding, nursery, and feeding grounds for estuarine and marine fisheries, including the iconic blue crab. Hampton's natural coastal floodplains are extremely important to waterfowl, furbearers, and other wildlife species, providing critical habitat for migratory birds, hunting grounds for predators, and a place for humans to see nature in action.

Surface water, ground water, floodplains, wetlands and other features do not function as separate and isolated components of the local watersheds, but rather as a single, integrated natural system. Disruption of any one part of this system can have long-term and far-reaching consequences on the functioning of the entire system. For Hampton, the protection of water resources, biologic resources, and societal resources traces back to the Native Americans who lived and hunted here long before European colonists settled the area in the 1600s.

How can you help to protect Hampton's natural floodplains and wetlands?

  • Visit the Hampton Department of Parks and Recreation online or call 727-8311 to find out more about volunteer opportunities and recreational outings in Hampton's parks and preserves.
  • Attend a Hampton Wetlands Board meeting to find out about how valuable tidal wetlands are protected through State and City regulatory permitting procedures.
  • Find out what's being done to protect the natural floodplains nearest you by reading your neighborhood's Strategic Master Plan.
  • Learn more about coastal floodplains and wetlands by visiting the Teaching Marsh at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at Gloucester Point.
  • Become involved in a local conservation organization such as Wetlands Watch, or Chesapeake Bay Program. They provide structured opportunities for citizens to become actively involved in voicing their opinions on specific initiatives and projects.