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Director of Environmental Engineering
Scott B. Smedley

 Email Addresses 

Phone Numbers
(804) 748-1035
(804) 768-8629 Fax

Mon. - Fri. 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Mailing Address
Chesterfield County Environmental Engineering
P.O. Box 40
Chesterfield, Virginia 23832-00400

Street Address 
9800 Government Center Parkway
Chesterfield, VA 23832Map this 

Environmental Engineering
Resource Protection Areas

What are Resource Protection Areas?

river2Resource Protection Areas (RPAs), or buffers, are the "corridors" of environmentally sensitive land that lie alongside or near the shorelines of streams, rivers, and other waterways. In their natural condition, RPAs protect water quality. RPAs filter pollutants out of stormwater runoff, reduce the volume of stormwater runoff,  prevent erosion, and perform other important biological and ecological functions. The components of an RPA include:

  • Tidal wetlands
  • Tidal shores
  • Non-tidal wetlands connected by surface flow and adjacent to tidal wetlands or tributary streams
  • A 100-foot buffer landward of the above features

In Chesterfield County, RPAs are located adjacent to the James and Appomattox Rivers, to the Falling Creek, Lake Chesdin and Swift Creek Reservoirs, and to the 469 miles of perennial streams (streams that flow all year long) throughout the county. The James and Appomattox Rivers are tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay. All of our streams are tributaries to these two rivers.

What happens if Resource Protection Areas are not properly managed?

Because RPAs are so close to water bodies, disturbing them allows more pollutants to enter our waters and, eventually, the Chesapeake Bay. Stormwater runoff picks up and carries oil from roads, soil from construction sites, fertilizers and pesticides from farms and lawns, harmful bacteria from pet and farm animal wastes, and trash. In many areas, stormwater is one of the leading causes of surface water pollution. In addition, if RPAs are inadequately managed, or if there is no protected stream corridor, other impacts such as stream bank and channel erosion, habitat destruction, and a reduction in the stream's biodiversity.

Riparian Buffer Demonstration Areas

Need help in re-establishing a riparian buffer? Visit our RPA demonstration areas. The Water Quality Team received a Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation in 2002. This grant has allowed us to create two different demonstration areas that show proper design and implementation of a riparian buffer. Volunteers helped plant both areas in the winter of 2003. A landscaped buffer was created at Sunday Park in Brandermill to demonstrate a buffer with an existing overstory of trees. Plants such as rhododendron, highbush blueberry and shore juniper and were utilized. The second buffer was established at Pocahontas State Park along Swift Creek Lake and utilized native hardwood seedlings, planting tubes and weed mats. This type buffer is usually utilized in a more rural setting. Either type of buffer is acceptable for a RPA restoration project. Both sites have interpretive signs to help visitors understand the importance of riparian buffers for water quality.

Directions to RPA Demonstration Areas:


To Sunday Park in Brandermill: From Route 360, turn onto Old Hundred Rd (stoplight, Brandermill Sign). Go 100 yards on Old Hundred and make your first left onto Millridge Parkway. Go approximately 1/4 mile on Millridge to the big green sign for Sunday Park. Turn left at the sign and drive past Sunday's Restaurant to the small parking lot on the right. Walk the path to the left of the parking lot. The RPA demo and sign will be on your right.

To Pocahontas State Park: From Route 10, take Beach Rd for 4 miles, the park will be on your right. The RPA demonstration project is located at Swift Creek Lake to the left of the boat launch. Parking fees are required for admission to Pocahontas State Park.

Related Content

Resource Protection Area Restoration Guide

Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Areas

About the Stormwater Management Program