Working to keep the West special

Virginia's Special Places in Peril

In September 2010, RMCO and the Natural Resources Defense Council released Virginia Special Places in Peril: Jamestown, Chincoteague, and Shenandoah Threatened by Climate Disruption.

The report details how human-caused climate change threatens Jamestown, the first permanent European settlement in what became the American colonies and the United States; Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge; and Shenandoah National Park.

Together, these three special places draw six million visitors a year and provide over 4,000 jobs and $200 million to Virginia's economy.

The map of Jamestown Island, to the right, shows its vulnerability to a one-meter rise in the tidal James River. The red area on this map shows land less than one meter above the level of the James River, and so likely to be inundated if the tidal James River rises by more than one meter. The site of the original 1607 settlement is low enough to be completely inundated by rising seas and tidal waters -- even if the waters do not rise as much by the century's end as now seems most likely to scientists.

Chincoteague, one of the nation's most visited national wildflife refuges, faces a wholesale disruption and transformation of its ecosystems, as rising seas and stronger coastal storms batter its vulnerable barrier island. Among the losses: 80 to 90% of the acreage of one of Virginia's most popular beaches, and habitats for one of the most diverse assemblages of wildlife in the mid-Atlantic.

Shenandoah National Park faces threats from encroaching pines that could mute its spectacular fall foliage, which draws the park's greatest number of visitors; disruption of ecoystems and loss of wildlife; and more vista-obscuring air pollution.

The news release on the issuance of the report is here.

You can download the full report (17 MB - a large file!)