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NVCT Protects 6 acres of wildlife habitat in Clifton

Northern Virginia Conservation Trust has preserved a nearly 6-acre parcel of forested land in Clifton that protects a segment of Popes Head Creek. This beautiful tract in the Springfield District of Fairfax County is home to common mammals such as deer, raccoons, foxes, and opossums. Migratory birds, insects, and native plants are also thriving on the property. Now safeguarded forever with a conservation easement, the success story would not have been possible without the generosity of its wonderful landowner.

Feature in Sun Gazette:

"We feel a kinship with every bird, insect, and tree that calls our property home. It's our job to protect them. We do that by adding more native plants, controlling the invasives, shrinking the lawn, and minimizing the use of chemicals," said landowner Margaret Fisher.

"On our property alone, when preparing for this easement, we cataloged seven species of mammals, five species of reptiles, 36 species of birds, eight species of amphibians, four species of spiders, 52 species of insects, and 36 species of native plants growing wild. That doesn't even take into account the many others that we didn't happen to stumble across," said landowner Jon Rosenthal.

State Senator George Barker (D-39) was delighted by the Fisher’s decision to conserve the property and hopes it inspires others in the region to follow suit. "I congratulate and thank my friends Margaret Fisher and Jon Rosenthal for their foresight in proposing a conservation easement that protects the animals, plants, and trees on their property and that also protects Popes Head Creek and the Occoquan Watershed. I hope that their action will spur other enlightened residents to offer similar conservation easements that contribute to keeping Clifton the Clifton we know and love," Barker said.

After having been completely cleared of trees in the 1930s, the property did a wonderful job of regenerating with Tulip Poplar, Oak, and Beech species that now provide critical canopy and habitat.

"This is a site that really speaks to the layered history of our region," said Conservation Director Matt Gerhart. "We have a stream valley that hosts vestiges of some of the earliest rail systems through the region and a mature, healthy forest that has regenerated from the clearing of the past through the careful stewardship of the current landowners."

Popes Head Creek, a tributary to Bull Run, is an important aquifer that feeds the Occoquan reservoir from which a majority of our region gets its clean water. The creek borders the property's northern boundary and remains one of the least developed watersheds in Fairfax County. "As a protector of the Occoquan Watershed, I am happy NVCT was able to arrange this conservation easement to help keep our commitment to protecting the source of our drinking water," said Fairfax County Supervisor for the Springfield District, Pat Herrity.

A 200-foot forested and vegetated riparian buffer lies on both sides of an approximately 690-foot-long segment of the creek. This vegetative area serves as a buffer to pollutants entering the stream from runoff, controls erosion, and provides habitat and nutrients to the stream.

"It's critical we do all we can to protect our environment for future generations. I'm grateful for the work of the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust and my constituents Margaret & Jon here in Clifton and remain committed to fighting for clean water and a green future for Virginia," said State Delegate Dan Helmer (D-40).

This newly protected land supports county open space and planning initiatives enacted to protect the forest canopy, wildlife habitat, and watersheds of Fairfax County. NVCT is the county's official land trust partner and works every day with landowners, county officials, and community stakeholders to safeguard nature and clean water in the Northern Virginia region for all time.


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 the land in Northern Virginia. Since its founding in 1994, NVCT has protected over 8,000 acres in urban and rural areas. To learn more, visit and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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