70-Acre Heron Rookery Dedicated to Expand Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve
Local Nonprofit Makes Dedication to Commonwealth of Virginia to Support Land Conservation Efforts
Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) has dedicated a 70-acre easement along the Potomac Creek to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to preserve and further protect the conservation values of one of the largest great blue heron nesting sites in the Chesapeake region. The Heron Rookery site at Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford, Virginia will be monitored year-round by DCR to maintain the ecological integrity of the wetland for generations to come.
The open space easement was granted to DCR by NVCT and includes a detailed management plan which requires year-round monitoring of the site to minimize any impact to the natural habitat. The management plan will guide stewardship of the heronry and its surrounding bottomland forest to ensure the long-term viability of the nesting colony. NVCT will retain ownership of the heron rookery and be closely involved with its stewardship while DCR to manages the site in accordance with the rest of Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve.
“Our partnership with DCR and Stafford County is truly making a difference in the future of Crow’s Nest, and the decision to dedicate an easement on the heronry will only enhance that,” said Alan Rowsome, Executive Director of NVCT. “Together we are combining our efforts and resources to make sure this biologically diverse site remains healthy, vibrant, and protected.”
NVCT, DCR and Stafford County have been working together since 1997 to advance their shared long-term collective goal of protecting the entire 4,000-acre Crow’s Nest peninsula. Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve is a natural and historical treasure that has taken years of collaboration and ingenuity to save the current 2,942 acres as Virginia's 54th state natural area preserve.
“Conservation happens when dedicated partners come together, and DCR is privileged to work with NVCT and Stafford County to make Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve a crown jewel among Virginia’s preserves,” said Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Clyde Cristman. “Saving this historic and biologically diverse land has taken the time, talent and dedication of many. Every step has ensured that this land will be preserved for generations to come.”
To commemorate the new partnership, an easement dedication ceremony will take place at Crow’s Nest on May 1, 2019 where guests will hear about the significance of this ongoing partnership to protect and conserve the Heronry inside of the Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve. Following the ceremony, attendees will have the option to partake in a hike on the Accokeek Loop Trail to take in spectacular views of the tidal marsh and the resident Great Blue Herons.
Crow’s Nest continues to be a very popular destination for nature-enthusiasts to enjoy bird watching, kayaking, hiking and more. While the 70 acre heronry is not publicly accessible at this time due to the sensitivity of its native plant and wildlife habitat, the site improves connectivity to the rest of the preserve and will be considered for public trails in the future.
About Northern Virginia Conservation Trust
The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) is a regional nonprofit land trust that forever conserves, manages and advocates for land that has natural, historical and cultural value to our Northern Virginia communities. NVCT works with conservation partners, local governments and private landowners to preserve, restore and steward land in Northern Virginia. NVCT’s service area includes 2.9 million residents in a fast-growing region that needs more outdoor recreation spaces. Since its founding in 1994, NVCT has protected nearly 7,000 acres in urban and rural areas. To learn more, visit our website and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
About the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
DCR serves a diverse commonwealth rich in history and nature. As the state’s lead conservation agency, DCR protects what Virginian’s care about – access to the outdoors, natural habitats, open space, clean water and safe infrastructure. DCR does this with dedicated teams in six divisions, Dam Safety and Floodplain Management, Land Conservation, Recreation Planning, Soil and Water Conservation, the Virginia Natural Heritage Program and Virginia State Parks. To learn more about DCR, please visit our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.