Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford expands by 59 acres
Northern Virginia Conservation Trust has helped the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation acquire a 59-acre property comprised of high-priority forested wetlands adjacent to the Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford County. The acquisition of this critical tract protects habitat for bald eagles, great blue herons, at least 25 species of waterfowl, several rare plant populations and countless neo-tropical migratory birds.
“This addition permanently conserves more of the globally significant Crow’s Nest conservation site, considered critical for the protection of three forest and swamp natural communities, which are riparian areas benefiting water quality of the Chesapeake Bay,” said Jason Bulluck, director of DCR’s Virginia Natural Heritage Program, which manages the state’s natural area preserves. “This land also includes habitats recognized in the Lower Potomac Important Bird Area as designated by the National Audubon Society. This is a prime example of essential partnership for a conservation success. And, this one further strengthens the resiliency of Crow’s Nest in perpetuity.”
A year ago, the state agency identified the property called Accokeek Bottomlands as a high-priority land acquisition opportunity to increase protections for Crow’s Nest, an ecological gem within a rapidly developing area near Fredericksburg. Lying adjacent to the current northwest boundary of the Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve, Accokeek Bottomlands now preserves visual and ecological buffer along a main public access route.
“NVCT was ready and excited to acquire these 59 acres as a critical addition to Crow’s Nest,” said Alan Rowsome, the organization’s executive director. “Our long-time partnership with DCR combined with the willingness and generosity of the Bowling family made it all possible, along with a group of incredible private donors who believe in expanding Crow’s Nest and wanted to make it a reality. It is a great day for anyone who loves this special place.”
As the landowner needed to move quickly to sell the property, NVCT stepped in on short notice to secure a loan and a Virginia Land Conservation Fund grant to purchase the property. With a long history of protecting key parcels of land to enhance Crow’s Nest, NVCT bought and held the property until the VLCF grant funds became available, and transferred the land to DCR for long-term management by Natural Heritage Program staff. The productive and supportive partnership between NVCT and DCR continues to make a difference at Crow’s Nest. Both have maintained a strong working alliance to expand this critical preserve with lands of special biodiversity importance.
“As supervisor and someone who values our natural treasures in Stafford County, I am grateful to the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust for their continued efforts in preserving these lands, which are vital to the continued stability, health, and success of our community,” said Monica Gary, who represents the Aquia district on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.
NVCT secured a portion of the funding to purchase and permanently protect this property through The Conservation Fund’s Conservation Loans Program. The organization raised the remainder of the financing through an aggressive private matching campaign made possible by a generous local donor. The campaign garnered the attention and support of community stakeholders whose generosity helped NVCT meet the matching goal and purchase the 59-acre tract. This community-supported effort spread awareness of the fundraising campaign, which was crucial in permanently conserving this land.
The latest acquisition brings the total acreage of Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve to 3,115 acres. A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the expansion will occur this fall and will be open to the public. Look for more details as they are finalized at nvct.org.