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VCPC Researches Oyster Grounds in Nansemond River

Lauren Coleman. ©VCPC

Tess Mackey, Virginia Sea Grant Correspondent

Lauren Coleman. ©VCPC

Lauren Coleman. ©VCPC

A new class of William & Mary law students has joined the Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic (VCPC). These students will conduct legal and policy analysis for coastal communities and participate in state-level policy meetings. This week, we’re highlighting VCPC students and the coastal policy questions they’ve been tackling this semester.

Lauren Coleman, an alumna of William & Mary, returned to her alma mater to pursue her law degree. She hopes to explore environmental law and gain hands-on experience with the VCPC.

During her undergraduate summers, Coleman worked with the National Institute of American History and Democracy, a William & Mary program that provides mentoring for high school students while touring Virginian historical sites. Coleman says this program sparked her interest in environmental law, since both environmental conservation and historical preservation aim to “maintain history and the Chesapeake region.”

As a VCPC student, Coleman will work with the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance. She will research the Virginia Department of Health’s closures of oyster grounds, their impacts on the shellfish industry, and the effect of the new state Total Maximum Daily Load requirements for the Nansemond River.

The natural resources of the Chesapeake Bay watershed played a crucial role in early American society and have both ecological and historical significance. For example, the once-pristine Nansemond River, which John Smith sailed on in 1608, is now classified as impaired because of high levels of sediment, phosphorous, and fecal pollution.

Coleman is from Woodbridge, Virginia, and majored in English and history as an undergraduate. She is now in her second year of law school, where she is an active member of the Student Environmental & Animal Law Society, pre-law advisor for undergraduate students, and dancer in Point Blank, a William & Mary dance company. In addition, she is writing a note for the Environmental Law and Policy Review discussing how to address runoff from non-point sources and algal blooms in Ohio.

The VCPC is an ongoing collaboration between the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Virginia Sea Grant, and William & Mary Law School. It provides science-based legal and policy analysis of critical and coastal management issues to state and local governments and educates the Virginia policymaking, non-profit, legal, and business communities about these subjects.