Richmond, Va. — The Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (CZM) is contracting with the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe to reclaim 866 acres of their ancestral lands along the Mattaponi River, a tributary to the York River in King William County. The funds to acquire the land are being awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Climate Ready Coasts initiative.
“This represents a wonderful opportunity for the Tribe to reacquire ancestral land along our beloved Mattaponi River,” said Chief W. Frank Adams of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe.
Virginia CZM is a network of agencies and coastal localities with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) serving as the lead agency. Virginia CZM has worked closely with the Tribe to secure the grant through a national competition. “DEQ is proud to be able to work in partnership with the Tribe to preserve these important lands,” said DEQ Director Mike Rolband.
This grant leverages an additional $630,000, including funds provided by the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, the previous landowner, and Tribal contributions. The property has a diverse mix of habitat such as wetlands, streams, native grasslands, and hardwood forest, including over 11,000 feet of waterfront. The Tribe has plans to create a baseline habitat monitoring plan once the land is purchased to better inform the restoration of the property in the future.
“Through collaboration between the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe and the Virginia CZM Program, these 866 acres will be added to the 3,385 acres conserved along the Mattaponi River basin corridor” said Virginia CZM Manager Laura McKay. The Tribe will develop a long-term plan for stewardship of the property including habitat restoration, economic development, and community use and access. This plan includes the revegetation of a mining area with native plants and restoration of streams on the property. The Tribe is also exploring the creation of a fish and mussel hatchery to restore culturally significant species and promote its local economy.
“The Upper Mattaponi people will use this property to help in protecting the integrity of the river, which has always been the homeland of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe,” said Chief Adams. “With these efforts we hope to improve
water quality, accessibility, and preserve threatened cultural sites.”