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Conserving Virginia's Natural Communities and Rare Species since 1986.


March 2017 | In this issue:

2017-2018 Legislative Update

The Natural Area Preserve Fund

What are Natural Heritage Resources?

2016 Biodiversity Without Boundaries Conference

Dedication of 63rd Virginia Natural Area Preserve

30 for 30 Video Series

88 Acres on Naked Mountain Donated

RareQuest Volunteers

Grassland-Open Woodland Restoration

Fire Learning Network

Assistance to North Carolina

Karst Protection

30th Anniversary Hikes

Eastern Shore Birding

Hawk Watching

Endangered James Spinymussel

Continued Presence of Harperella

Globally Rare Wetland Discovered

Two Globally Rare Plants Discovered

Invasive Shrub Discovered and Removed

Prescribed Fire Success at Preserve

Installation of Signs and Gates at Crow's Nest

Virginia ConservationVision Updates

Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle Recovery

WCVE Interview at Chub Sandhill

Longleaf Pine Workshop

Longleaf Pine Burning Complete

Rare Animal List Published

Rare Plant List Published

Virginia Conservation Lands Database

Natural Heritage Data Explorer

Locality Liaison Program

2017-2018 Legislative Update


While the last step remains, Governor’s approval, the proposed state budget has some noteworthy changes for the DCR-Natural Heritage Program. While our funding remains flat, our protection work will not continue in the coming year, as in the past. Since 1986, DCR’s Natural Heritage Program has worked with partners to prioritize and agilely take advantage of best opportunities to protect natural heritage resources with our Natural Area Preserves System. In the 2017-2018 year, budget language requires that our protection efforts focus on only 11 of Virginia’s  63 existing preserves. While this is a new and different way to go about our work, we remain committed to conserving the best remaining examples of Virginia’s natural heritage for this and future generations.

Keep up with us on Facebook and look for your next update in a few months. Enjoy the spring!

Jason Bulluck
Natural Heritage Director

The Natural Area Preservation Fund


Did you know you can contribute to the work of the Natural Heritage Program in growing and managing the Natural Area Preserve System? There are 63 preserves with a total of 56,000 acres. Twenty-one of them offer public access. The preserves require constant work to maintain trails and parking areas, control invasive species, and restore habitats for rare species and natural communities. The Natural Area Preservation Fund is an important resource for this work. Anyone can make a contribution to the NAPF, and donations are directly and fully spent on work in the Natural Area Preserves System. Call 804-786-7951 to donate today.

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Conservation partners, friends and family,

Thanks to your support and collaboration with DCR’s leadership and hardworking Natural Heritage team, the Virginia Natural Heritage Program’s 30th year was rich in great news and successes, large and small, for conservation in Virginia. Some of you may have kept up along the way via Facebook, and if not, please check us out.

The following offers a round-up of some of our many accomplishments over the past year as well as other noteworthy information about how we are supported and how we work for all Virginians.

Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter, share it with your friends and check you inbox this summer for the next edition.

What are Natural Heritage Resources?


Our mission is to conserve Virginia’s biodiversity through biological inventory, data management and sharing, environmental review, land protection and the stewardship of the Virginia Natural Area Preserves System. All the work we do starts with field data that represent the current distribution and conditions of natural heritage resources. Those resources are plant and animal species populations, exemplary and intact natural communities, and unique geological resources.

By the end of 2016, Natural Heritage Resources consisted of:
  • 795 rare animal species.
  • 710 rare plant species. 
  • 527 distinct types of vegetation communities.

Known occurrences of these resources number: 
  • 3,326 rare animal species.
  • 3,871 rare plant populations.
  • 1,612 for natural communities.

These occurrences are synthesized and mapped into conservation sites designed to contain the entire land area necessary to ensure the persistence of all natural heritage resources therein. We use conservation sites internally and share them with partners to guide field study and the management of rare species and natural communities, land protection, and conserved lands. The sites are also used to inform environmental review. By the end of 2016, we had mapped 2,090 conservation sites in Virginia including 1,408 terrestrial sites, 429 stream conservation units and 253 cave conservation sites.

Attendance and Accolades at the 2016 Biodiversity Without Boundaries Conference


DCR Deputy Director Tom Smith joined two Natural Heritage Program employees at the 2016 Biodiversity without Boundaries (BWB) conference held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This annual conference is organized by NatureServe, a nonprofit science organization that works closely with NH programs throughout the Western Hemisphere. Every year, DCR natural heritage staffers attend this conference to share information about conservation science, NH and methodologies and innovation within the network.

Each year, NatureServe bestows a Conservation Impact award for a NH program that excels in its commitment to science-based conservation through intra- and extra-network collaboration, integrity, respect for others, and the production of high quality data, tools and knowledge. This year, Virginia’s DCR Natural Heritage Program received this honor for its contributions to the network by
  • use of GIS for conservation decision-making; 
  • the development of mobile data collection procedures; 
  • the development of a unique statewide wetlands catalog for prioritizing wetland conservation and restoration opportunities; 
  • pioneering the development and use of the Natural Heritage Data Explorer environmental review tool; and 
  • significant advances in predicting suitable habitat for rare plant and animal species (i.e., species distribution modeling). 

This and many other successful efforts over the past decade have maintained Virginia Natural Heritage as an international leader and role model for conservation organizations.

Moreover, Virginia was the recipient of a new award, the NatureServe Lifetime Achievement Award, given to an NH employee who has excelled during his or her career within the Natural Heritage Network. There was no question that Tom Smith, recently moving on from his position as the Virginia Natural Heritage Director, should be the first recipient of this award! This year’s Biodiversity without Boundaries conference was celebratory and monumental for DCR’s Natural Heritage Program.

Dedication of 63rd Virginia Natural Area Preserve


On May 6, DCR celebrated the establishment of its 63rd NAP, Bald Knob, from atop a historic building in downtown Rocky Mount which is adjacent to the preserve. Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, DCR Director Clyde Cristman, and Virginia Board of Conservation and Recreation Chairman Bruce Wingo joined interested citizens, staff of Rocky Mount and Franklin County, and other DCR staffers for an introduction to the preserve system and its addition. The approximately 80-acre property was purchased with funds from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, administered by the National Park Service. Bald Knob has been a protection priority for many years due to several outstanding natural heritage resources, including the largest known population of Piedmont fameflower (Phemeranthus piedmontanus) in the world, the only Virginia population of  Keever’s bristle-moss (Orthotrichum keeverae) and the largest and finest known example of the Piedmont Mafic Barren natural community type.

30 for 30 Video Series


As part of our 30th anniversary, we published a series of short videos highlighting our staff and partnerships. The videos show how we work to conserve Virginia’s natural heritage. Check them out.

88 Acres on Naked Mountain Donated


Just before Christmas, the commonwealth received a precious gift from landowners Bill and Anna Reager. The couple donated an open space easement and natural area preserve dedication on nearly 88 acres on Naked Mountain in Nelson County. DCR staff began discussing the easement with the Reagers in the spring of 2007. This addition to the existing privately owned Naked Mountain Natural Area Preserve brings Virginia’s preserve system to 55,982 acres.

Natural Heritage Resources Identified by RareQuest Volunteers


In 2016, DCR biologists initiated a project called RareQuest. This project used Virginia Master Naturalist volunteers to monitor the health of documented rare species populations throughout the commonwealth.
Through RareQuest, 81 volunteers contributed more than 770 hours of their time.

Teams of volunteers contacted landowners to get permission to access their property. The teams successfully found and documented 27 of the 134 rare species occurrences assigned to them. They also found a rare tree previously known to exist at only one other site in Virginia. In some instances, when they were unable to find a rare species population, they were able to document habitat changes to explain why the plants are no longer in that area. Watch this video about the project.

In addition to providing crucial data updates, this program strengthened the partnership between DCR and the Virginia Master Naturalists. Surveys were conducted with Master Naturalist volunteers prior to the training sessions, immediately following the training sessions and following the field work. The volunteers reported increases in their knowledge of the Natural Heritage mission and the purpose and process of monitoring rare species occurrences. Also, after training and before the field work was conducted, 15 percent of volunteers indicated that “supporting efforts of DCR’s Natural Heritage Program” was the primary motivation for participating in RareQuest. This jumped to 43 percent in the post-field season survey.

Grassland-Open Woodland Restoration at Grassy Hill Natural Area Preserve


During the first week of December 2016, DCR staff mechanically removed woody vegetation within areas of a Piedmont prairie and oak-hickory woodland at Grassy Hill Natural Area Preserve in Franklin County. Young trees and shrubs were encroaching into woodlands and shading out native prairie plants, including the federally listed (endangered) smooth coneflower. The continuous fuels created by bush-hogging will facilitate prescribed burning. This combination of vegetation management by mechanical means and with prescribed fire promotes the restoration and maintenance of diverse open woodland and grassland ecosystems.

Fire Learning Network Annual Meeting Field Trip to Mount Joy Pond


During the first week of November 2016, DCR Natural Heritage Stewardship staff led a field trip for nearly 80 participants from 21 different organizations to Mount Joy Pond Natural Area Preserve in Augusta County. The field trip was part of a two-day annual meeting of the Central Appalachians Fire Learning Network (FLN). Participants were introduced to the Montane Depression Wetland community protected at the preserve, which supports a vigorous population of the federally listed (endangered) plant, Virginia sneezeweed (Helenium virginicum). Establishment of this burn unit resulted directly from a strong, effective partnership between DCR, VDGIF, USDA Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy staff. Field trip discussions centered on the direct ecological benefits of prescribed fire to the natural pond community and how fire may potentially help restore and maintain pond hydrology through the reduction of tree species encroaching into surrounding areas in the absence of fire. DCR has partnered with Virginia Tech faculty to install groundwater monitoring wells within the pond to collect hydrologic data pre- and post-burn to assess impacts and benefits of prescribed fire on pond hydrology.

Assistance to North Carolina State Parks on Party Rock Wildfire


On Nov. 17, DCR’s Natural Heritage Shenandoah Valley region steward traveled with state parks staff to Lake Lure, North Carolina, to assist its state parks staff with suppression efforts on the Party Rock wildfire. The fire started on Nov. 5 and had grown to over 7,000 acres by the time the Virginia crew arrived. Due to the large number of structures threatened within the area, the fire was being managed by a N.C. Forest Service Incident Management Team. The DCR crew spent five days mopping up under supervision of N.C. State Parks fire managers. This was a great opportunity for DCR fire personnel to gain experience with the suppression side of wildland fire management and to provide critical assistance to our neighbor state at a difficult time.

Cooperative Inter-agency Karst Protection


DCR Natural Heritage Karst Protection staff led a cave protection effort with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the National Wild Turkey Federation, volunteers from the National Speleological Society, and master cave gate builder Jim Kennedy of Austin, Texas. More than seven tons of steel were used to erect a 45 by 17-foot bat-friendly gate. The gate protects a privately owned cave that is home to one of Virginia’s three largest known remaining populations of hibernating little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus). This species was nearly wiped out by white nose syndrome and as a result, it is listed as endangered under the Virginia Endangered Species Act. The state-endangered tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) also hibernates in this cave as well as small numbers of federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis). This is the largest cave gate built to date in Virginia. The expertise of Kennedy’s team, paired with the herculean labor of Natural Heritage stewardship staff, was instrumental in safely building a secure, durable structure. Sponsorship by the Wild Turkey Federation was invaluable to this project.

Natural Heritage 30th Anniversary Public Hikes


On the weekend of Oct. 22-23, 2016, DCR’s Natural Heritage Program celebrated its 30th anniversary (1986 - 2016) by hosting seven events for the general public at state natural area preserves. These guided hikes were planned, promoted and hosted with the goal of making the mission of Natural Heritage more widely known and to increase awareness and appreciation for Virginia’s natural area preserves (NAPs) and the remarkable biodiversity protected by this special system of state lands. A total of 86 people attended the events on a nice, but windy, fall weekend. Trips included:
  • a driving tour of karst features (caves, sinking streams) and upland woodland restoration at the Cedars NAP in Lee County;
  • a guided hike through geologically unusual rock outcrops and dry woodlands to the summit of Bald Knob NAP in Franklin County; and
  • a paddling trip through tidal freshwater marsh at Crow’s Nest NAP in Stafford County.

Public hikes were also conducted at four other preserves: Pinnacle (Russell County), Goshen Pass (Rockbridge County), Hughlett Point (Northumberland County) and Savage Neck Dunes (Northampton County).

Eastern Shore Birding


Six Eastern Shore Natural Area Preserves were among the field trip venues for the Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival. They included Savage Neck Dunes, Cape Charles, Pickett’s Harbor, Magothy Bay, Mutton Hunk Fen and Wreck Island. The trips were led by the Natural Heritage Eastern Shore region steward, the coastal operations steward, the Natural Heritage field zoologist and members of the Virginia Master Naturalists Eastern Shore Chapter. The annual festival is a celebration of the autumn songbird, shorebird and raptor migration along the Delmarva Peninsula.

 

Hawk Watching at Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve


On  Sept. 18, the Southwest Stewardship technician led a fall raptor migration-watching event at Buffalo Mountain NAP in Floyd County. Thirty people attended the event. Among the notable sightings were over 200 broad-winged hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, red-shouldered hawks, red-tailed hawks, ospreys and a bald eagle. Mid to late September marks the peak of the fall migration of hawks, and the prominent summit of Buffalo Mountain is an ideal place to observe these raptors as they travel south along the Blue Ridge.
 

Endangered James Spinymussel Confirmed in the Tye River


Natural Heritage field zoologists surveying for freshwater mussels in Nelson County found a population of James Spinymussel (Pleurobema collina) in the Tye River. This globally rare freshwater mussel is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. In Virginia, its habitat is known from the James River and Roanoke River watersheds. Surveys in previous years located shells of the species but, until now, the continued persistence of a population in the Tye could not be confirmed. Further surveys are needed to determine the size and health of this newly found population. The Tye River, a tributary of the James River, also supports a population of the state-listed Green Floater, (Lasmigona subviridis) and other species.

Continued Presence of Harperella


A DCR field botanist and a botany assistant, along with staff of the Natural Resources Environmental Affairs Branch of Marine Corps Base Quantico, visited a creek in Stafford County to assess the status of the only known Virginia occurrence of the federal and state listed plant harperella (Harperella nodosa). Harperella is a herbaceous member of the parsley family (Apiaceae) with quill-shaped leaves and small clusters of tiny white flowers found in seasonal ponds and along small seasonally flooded rocky, gravely waterways throughout its spotty range in the southeastern United States. Sedimentation is a major threat to stream-dwelling populations of harperella because the bedrock cracks, and gravelly substrates preferred by the species can be smothered by excessive siltation. Population levels have fluctuated since 2002 when the occurrence consisting of 350 stems was first found by a DCR field botanist; declines in some years were likely associated with heavy siltation events. In 2016, three colonies of plants totaling 108 stems, with 32 of them flowering or fruiting and around 76 vegetative, were present probably in the locations observed in 2009 when last assessed at 57 stems. In some of the colonies, plants were prostrate and only loosely attached to the substrate due to being underwater from heavy rainfall two nights before.

Globally Rare Wetland Discovered


While exploring a portion of the Neal Run watershed near Hidden Valley in Bath County, Natural Heritage Program ecologists and a national forest botanist documented a significant occurrence of a globally rare wetland natural community. This occurrence of the Central Appalachian Low-Elevation Acidic Seepage Swamp is rare and merits further investigation by a hydrogeologist. Unlike other occurrences, which typically occupy flat headwaters stream bottoms, it is on a steep (22 degrees), wet, mountain slope where groundwater is discharged abundantly and extensive mats of sphagnum mosses have formed. A deep, permanently flooded sinkhole pond is upslope, and water held by this pond may be leaching from the pond bottom and saturating a considerable area of the slope below. In addition, many trees in the wetland are old and show basal scars typical of those caused by fires. The dominant species are red maple, black gum, pitch pine, white pine, cinnamon fern and sphagnum.

Two Globally Rare Plants Discovered


A DCR field botanist and botany assistant found new locations for two globally rare plants in Bath County. During a survey for the federally listed-endangered and state listed-threatened plant shale barren rock cress (Boechera serotina) a small population of the plant was found on a small area of shale barren habitat on a privately owned tract to the northeast of a barren where a historical occurrence was last documented in 1987. Shale barren rock cress, a short-lived perennial in the mustard family (Brassicaceae), is only known to inhabit the shale barrens in Virginia and West Virginia. Under a Section 6 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, searches for more locations of shale barren rock cress are being conducted this summer in high probability areas selected using a predictive model developed by DCR’s GIS projects manager. Results of the surveys will aid in evaluating and refining the model as well as increasing understanding of the distribution of this species. Searches on additional areas on this tract also produced two new adjacent woodland and forest locations for the globally rare plant sword-leaf phlox (Phlox buckleyi), a perennial herb in the Jacob’s ladder family (Polemoniaceae). This plant, found only in western Virginia and eastern West Virginia, grows in woodlands, woodland edges, and roadbanks underlain by shale in the ridge and valley and metasiltstone in the Blue Ridge. Although it was well past the flowering period for this pink-flowered spring bloomer, the evergreen sterile rosettes it produces from rhizomes were evident in several locations on the early August survey.

Invasive Beach Vitex Shrub Discovered and Removed


On Aug. 9, DCR’s Chesapeake Bay region steward was contacted by a vigilant local citizen who reported seeing a single Beach vitex (Vitex rotundifolia) plant at Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve in Mathews County. Beach vitex is a highly invasive, sprawling non-native shrub from Asia that has been unwisely planted along the East Coast for shoreline stabilization. Ironically, it is a poor dune stabilizer compared with native plants in the habitat that it displaces. Nicknamed “kudzu of the coast,” beach vitex aggressively invades maritime natural communities. Making use of the “Early Detection, Rapid Response” strategy for dealing effectively with invasive species, DCR staff responded quickly and removed the reported plant. This is the first reported occurrence of this species on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. After finding this plant colonizing shorelines in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and the Eastern Shore, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) issued a beach vitex quarantine for those areas. However, Mathews and other western shore Chesapeake Bay counties were not subject to the quarantine so it is possible that recent introductions have occurred. In January 2015, VDACS added beach vitex to the list of Tier I Noxious Weeds in Virginia, making it illegal to import or sell it in the state. Surveys are needed to understand the extent of beach vitex establishment on western Chesapeake Bay shorelines so that appropriate responses can be made.

Prescribed Fire Success at Cowbane Natural Area Preserve


Prescribed fire and invasive species control efforts by stewardship staff seem to be paying dividends at the Cowbane Prairie Natural Area Preserve. Since the most recent fire, the native grasses and other vegetation are responding as predicted. Among the species responding favorably is the Winged Loosestrife, as several flowering stems were observed in the burn unit. Prescribed fire is especially critical at this site that features one of the last remaining prairie and open wetland complexes remaining in the state.

Installation of Signs and Gates at Crow's Nest Begins


On Aug. 3, DCR’s Natural Heritage Program northern region steward and operations steward finished installing the first set of gates and signs at Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve. More trail and road signs will be installed over the next month. Other infrastructure to be installed includes several new kiosks and a stream crossing. The grand opening of 8 miles of trails at Crow’s Nest is scheduled for Spring 2017.

Virginia ConservationVision Updates


The Natural Heritage Data Explorer (NHDE), an online map service, has been updated to include the most current versions of the development vulnerability model and the agricultural model. These two revised map products are part of Virginia ConservationVision, a suite of tools used by DCR and partners to comprehensively assess conservation values in Virginia. Without downloading any data files or having access to specialized GIS software, users can quickly display the new model versions for a statewide overview. It is also easy to zoom in to areas of interest, and click on the map to determine model values at a specific location. Maps can be accessed here.

Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle Recovery


Following Hurricane Isabel’s landfall in 2003, the northeastern beach tiger beetle (Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis), a federally listed (and threatened) species, endemic to sandy shorelines on the Chesapeake Bay and a few scattered populations in the northeast, nearly disappeared from the shorelines of Dameron Marsh Natural Area Preserve in Northumberland County. The northern shorelines of the preserve, inhabited by more than 700 such beetles in the months before Hurricane Isabel struck, experienced extensive rollback and sand movement that nearly wiped out the resident population. While the beetles are adapted to life on dynamic, shifting shorelines, the impacts of Hurricane Isabel were too severe and swift for the sand-dwelling larvae. In the following years, from 2004 to 2011, between zero and four adult beetles were found during summer population surveys. However, in July of 2016, DCR’s Chesapeake Bay region steward resurveyed the area and found 894 beetles on the preserve’s northern sandy shorelines. This decade-long recovery represents a return to a pre-hurricane population size at the preserve.

WCVE Interview at Chub Sandhill Natural Area Preserve


On May 18, the producer and reporter from WCVE’s radio show “Virginia Currents” traveled to Chub Sandhill Natural Area Preserve to interview staff from DCR, the Department of Forestry and The Nature Conservancy about Virginia-native longleaf pine restoration efforts. The interview was aired on June 2. You can hear the interview here.

Longleaf Pine Workshop


On May 5, DCR's Natural Heritage Program staff participated in a workshop for landowners and resource professionals titled “The Growing Interest in Longleaf Pine” with the objective of focusing on longleaf pine reforestation at the northern range limit of this species. The workshop was held in Franklin, Virginia, at the Paul D. Camp Community College and included an afternoon field trip to DCR’s South Quay Sandhills Natural Area Preserve. Workshop organizers (North Carolina Forest Service, Virginia Department of Forestry, North Carolina and Virginia Cooperative Extension) considered the event a success, with good representation from both states, excellent presentations, multiple exhibitors providing informative materials, genuine interest and engagement from attending landowners, and outstanding participation during the field tour. A total of 86 people attended the workshop. DCR’s natural areas stewardship manager gave a 30-minute talk about using prescribed burning to manage longleaf pine, and DCR’s longleaf pine restoration specialist and its southeast region steward led the field tour. Participants saw longleaf pine reforestation practices implemented in 2015 and the native-seed-collection area within Virginia’s last remaining natural mature stand of longleaf pine.

Longleaf Pine Burning Complete


On April 20, 2016, a natural heritage longleaf pine restoration specialist led a 39-acre prescribed fire in a three-year-old grass stage longleaf pine restoration unit at Antioch Pines Natural Area Preserve. Marking the completion of longleaf pine burning for the spring 2016 burn season, this fire set back competing vegetation and provided valuable nutrients to these young trees. Critical crew assistance was provided by staff from The Nature Conservancy, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, AmeriCorps and Wildland Restoration International.

Rare Animal List Published


The Virginia Rare Animal List has been updated for the first time in three years. The new list is accompanied by the Animal Watchlist (also revised) and Animal Review List (new category). The primary list contains 793 species (189 vertebrates, 604 invertebrates), as compared with 969 species (187 vertebrates, 782 invertebrates) in the 2013 list. The status of many invertebrates was reassessed resulting in their transfer to either the Watchlist or Review List, which now includes 347 (74 vertebrates, 273 invertebrates) and 273 (five vertebrates, 268 invertebrates) species, respectively. Notable additions to the Rare Animal List include several bat species whose populations have declined dramatically in the past decade because of White Nose Syndrome. The Virginia Rare Animal List is available to the public on the DCR website.
 

Rare Plant List Published


The annual update of the Natural Heritage rare plant list was recently published. It contains the revised global and state-level conservation and legal status for more than 620 species of rare vascular plants and almost 90 species of rare mosses, liverworts and lichens found in Virginia. The document helps focus the agency’s conservation efforts and encourages data contributions from outside scientists and plant enthusiasts. It also provides conservation partners and the public with the official, current and comprehensive list of the rare plants in Virginia.
 

Virginia Conservation Lands Database


A fundamental tool we manage in order to make land conservation and management decisions is the state’s Conservation Lands Database. By the end of 2016, Virginia was supporting 9,095 managed areas, comprised of nearly 4,022,000 acres. This dataset provides the Virginia component of the National Conservation Easement Database and the Protected Areas Database for the United States.

Natural Heritage Data Explorer


We welcome you to visit and use our Virginia Natural Heritage Data Explorer (NHDE). The NHDE is a mapping website that the public and subscribers can use to access maps that summarize natural heritage resources, conservation priorities and reference datasets throughout Virginia.

Locality Liaison Program


Locality liaisons serve as primary contacts for local governments, planning district commissions, land trusts and other conservation partners. The liaisons provide and support the use of natural heritage resources data and information for a variety of land use and conservation decisions. As of December 2016, 95 Virginia localities, i.e., 69 percent of them had natural heritage information. The coastal zone, defined by the Department of Environmental Quality’s Coastal Zone Management Program, had 41 localities, i.e., 93 percent of coastal localities, with natural heritage information. Coastal zone localities without natural heritage data and localities in other parts of the state with high natural heritage resource richness will be contacted in 2017 to discuss inclusion of this information in their comprehensive planning, environmental screening and conservation efforts.
Copyright © 2017, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Virginia Natural Heritage Program
600 East Main Street; 24th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219

Twice selected as the Outstanding Natural Heritage Program in the Western Hemisphere.

Terry McAuliffe, Governor
Molly Ward, Secretary of Natural Resources
Clyde Cristman, DCR Director

Jason Bulluck, Natural Heritage Director


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Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation · Division of Natural Heritage · 600 E. Main St., 24th Floor · Richmond, VA 23219 · USA

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