Virginia Natural Area Preserve System

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View of Buffalo Mountain's nearly treeless summit within the Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve in Virginia's Floyd County

The Virginia Natural Area Preserve System is a system of protected areas in the state of Virginia. As of 2016 there were sixty-three dedicated preserves in Virginia, containing examples of some of the rarest natural communities in the state; in addition, many serve as a home for locally, nationally, and globally rare species.[1]

History[edit]

In 1986, the Virginia Natural Heritage Program was formed through a cooperative agreement between the Commonwealth of Virginia and The Nature Conservancy; the program was placed under the control of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) two years later. To further the Natural Heritage Program's mission to conserve and manage sites identified as significant natural areas within the state, The Virginia Natural Area Preserve System was established in 1989.[2][3] The system's first preserve, North Landing River Natural Area Preserve, was established the following year. By 2007, the preserve system included 50 protected areas.[4] As of 2016, 63 Natural Area Preserves were established in Virginia.[1]

Description[edit]

The Virginia Natural Area Preserve System is managed as part of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Natural Heritage Program, with the purpose of protecting threatened or rare plants, animals, and natural communities.[5] To become a part of the system, a Natural Area Preserve must be accepted by the director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, although they may be initially dedicated by other departments and agencies of the Commonwealth of Virginia.[6] Natural Area Preserves may be acquired by the Commonwealth of Virginia, or may continue to be owned by independent conservation organizations or other private landowners. Dedication itself is similar to a conservation easement, as it places certain legal strictures on future development of a given portion of land.[1]

Public access[edit]

Most properties are owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, however some are owned by local government, universities, private citizens, and independent conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy.[1] Many properties owned by Virginia are freely open to the public for low-impact uses such as hiking; however other state-owned properties require that arrangements be made with a state-employed land steward prior to visitation. Privately held properties may restrict public access, although visitation may sometimes be arranged in coordination with the preserve's owner.[7] Access to any individual Natural Area Preserve may be temporarily restricted if it is determined that such a closure is necessary to protect sensitive plant and animal populations within the preserve, or to enact management actions such as prescribed burns. Activities such as camping or the building of campfires are typically forbidden.[1]

List of Virginia Natural Area Preserves[edit]

The following table lists Virginia's Natural Area Preserves as of 2016. Those listed as being accessible "by arrangement" require prospective visitors to contact either state-employed land stewards, private property owners, or both.[1]

Preserve name County or
counties[8]
Area[8] Owner[8] Public
access?[8]
Notes
Antioch Pines Isle of Wight 1,017 acres (4.12 km2) DCR By arrangement
Bald Knob Franklin 79 acres (0.32 km2) DCR No
Bethel Beach Mathews 105 acres (0.42 km2) DCR Yes
Big Spring Bog Grayson 50 acres (0.20 km2) DCR By arrangement
Blackwater Ecological Preserve Isle of Wight 318 acres (1.29 km2) Old Dominion University By arrangement
Blackwater Sandhills Isle of Wight 815 acres (3.30 km2) Isle of Wight County No
Buffalo Mountain Floyd 1,140 acres (4.6 km2) DCR Yes
Bull Run Mountains Faquier,
Prince William
2,486 acres (10.06 km2) Virginia Outdoors Foundation Yes
Bush Mill Stream Northumberland 103 acres (0.42 km2) DCR Yes
Camp Branch Wetlands Floyd 80 acres (0.32 km2) Private No
Cape Charles Coastal Habitat Northampton 29 acres (0.12 km2) DCR Yes
The Cedars Lee 1,797 acres (7.27 km2) DCR By arrangement
The Channels Washington,
Russell
721 acres (2.92 km2) Virginia Department of Forestry Yes
Cherry Orchard Bog Sussex,
Prince George
354 acres (1.43 km2) DCR By arrangement
Chestnut Creek Wetlands Floyd 244 acres (0.99 km2) DCR By arrangement
Chestnut Ridge Giles 233 acres (0.94 km2) Private By arrangement
Chotank Creek King George 1,108 acres (4.48 km2) Private No
Chub Sandhill Sussex 1,066 acres (4.31 km2) DCR Yes
Cleveland Barrens Russell 1,288 acres (5.21 km2) DCR/The Nature Conservancy By arrangement
Clover Hollow Giles 25 acres (0.10 km2) DCR By permission Access permitted only for the purpose of data collection and monitoring.[9]
Cowbane Prairie Augusta 63 acres (0.25 km2) DCR By arrangement
Crawford's Knob Nelson 1,387 acres (5.61 km2) Private By arrangement
Crow's Nest Stafford 2,872 acres (11.62 km2) Stafford County Yes
Cypress Bridge Southampton 535 acres (2.17 km2) DCR By arrangement
Dameron Marsh Northumberland 316 acres (1.28 km2) DCR Yes
Deep Run Ponds Rockingham 706 acres (2.86 km2) DCR By arrangement
Dendron Swamp Sussex 636 acres (2.57 km2) DCR By arrangement Contains the 19-acre (7.7 ha) Charles C. Steirly Natural Area, an essentially virgin bald cypress swamp that was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974.[10]
Difficult Creek Halifax 819 acres (3.31 km2) DCR Yes
Dundas Granite Flatrock Brunswick 11 acres (0.045 km2) Private By arrangement
Elklick Woodlands Fairfax 226 acres (0.91 km2) Fairfax County Park Authority By arrangement
False Cape Virginia Beach 3,573 acres (14.46 km2) DCR Yes
Fletcher Ford Lee 54.5 acres (0.221 km2) The Nature Conservancy By arrangement
Folly Mills Creek Fen Augusta 29 acres (0.12 km2) Private By arrangement
Goshen Pass Rockbridge 936 acres (3.79 km2) DCR Yes
Grafton Ponds York 375 acres (1.52 km2) Newport News Yes
Grassy Hill Franklin 1,440 acres (5.8 km2) DCR Yes
Grayson Glades Grayson 31 acres (0.13 km2) DCR By arrangement
Hickory Hollow Lancaster 254 acres (1.03 km2) Northern Neck Audubon Society Yes
Hughlett Point Northumberland 204 acres (0.83 km2) DCR Yes
Johnsons Creek Alleghany 99 acres (0.40 km2) DCR By arrangement
Magothy Bay Northampton 286 acres (1.16 km2) DCR Yes
Mark's and Jack's Island Accomack 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) The Nature Conservancy By arrangement
Mill Creek Springs Montgomery 222 acres (0.90 km2) The Nature Conservancy By arrangement
Mount Joy Pond Augusta 274 acres (1.11 km2) DCR By arrangement
Mutton Hunk Fen Accomack 516 acres (2.09 km2) DCR Yes
Naked Mountain Nelson 278 acres (1.13 km2) Private By arrangement
New Point Comfort Mathews 105 acres (0.42 km2) The Nature Conservancy Yes
North Landing River Virginia Beach 3,441 acres (13.93 km2) DCR No After a decade of closure due to illegal activities, this preserve was scheduled to re-open for public use in 2016 or 2017.[11]
Northwest River Chesapeake 2,774 acres (11.23 km2) DCR By arrangement
Ogdens Cave Frederick 131 acres (0.53 km2) DCR By arrangement
Parkers Marsh Accomack 759 acres (3.07 km2) DCR Yes
Parramore Island Accomack 7,000 acres (28 km2) The Nature Conservancy By arrangement Access permitted for research or educational purposes only.[12]
Pedlar Hills Glades Montgomery 1,036 acres (4.19 km2) DCR By arrangement
Pickett's Harbor Northampton 123 acres (0.50 km2) DCR By arrangement
Pinnacle Russell 891 acres (3.61 km2) DCR Yes
Poor Mountain Roanoke 933 acres (3.78 km2) DCR Yes
Redrock Mountain Smyth 640 acres (2.6 km2) DCR By arrangement
Savage Neck Dunes Northampton 298 acres (1.21 km2) DCR Yes
Sweet Springs Montgomery 235 acres (0.95 km2) Private By arrangement
South Quay Sandhills Southampton,
City of Suffolk
3,586 acres (14.51 km2) DCR/The Nature Conservancy By arrangement
Unthanks Cave Lee 171 acres (0.69 km2) DCR By permission Access permitted only for the purpose of data collection and monitoring.[13]
Wreck Island Northampton 1,380 acres (5.6 km2) DCR Yes

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Natural Area Preserves". Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Virginia DCR - Natural Heritage Program". LandScope America. NatureServe. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  3. ^ "§ 10.1-214. Virginia natural area preserves system established". Code of Virginia. 1989. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  4. ^ Virginia's Natural Area Preserve System (PDF). Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. 2016. p. 16. Retrieved December 15, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Natural Area Preserves". LandScope America. NatureServe. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  6. ^ "§ 10.1-213. Dedication of natural area preserves". Code of Virginia. 1989. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  7. ^ Middleton, Leslie (October 6, 2016). "Preserve walks celebrate VA Natural Heritage Program's 30th year". Bay Journal. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c d Information included in this column is sourced from individual pages listed at: "Natural Area Preserves". Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Clover Hollow Natural Area Preserve". Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Charles C. Steirly Natural Area". National Natural Landmarks. National Park Service. Retrieved December 14, 2016. 
  11. ^ "North Landing River Natural Area Preserve". Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Parramore Island Natural Area Preserve". Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Retrieved December 25, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Unthanks Cave Natural Area Preserve". Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 

External links[edit]