Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

04/23/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/22/2024 22:18

Project to protect 1,900 acres of forest in Southeast Virginia receives federal grant

Media inquiries: Please contact Dave Neudeck, [email protected], 804-786-5053.

Date: April 23, 2024
Contact: Dave Neudeck, Communications and Marketing Director, 804-786-5053, [email protected]
Emi Endo, Senior Public Relations and Marketing Specialist, 804-786-8442, [email protected]

Project to protect 1,900 acres of forest in Southeast Virginia receives federal grant

(Editors: Follow this link to download an image. Photo caption: The Nottoway River is part of the Chowan River basin of Virginia and North Carolina. These waters flow into the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary, the second largest estuarine complex in the contiguous United States. Photo courtesy of Virginia's Healthy Waters Program.)

RICHMOND, Va. - A Virginia state project to acquire 1,900 acres of contiguous forest in Suffolk for biodiversity conservation and future public access will receive a $5.6 million federal grant.

Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today announced a total of $123 million in recommended habitat protection and restoration awards, in partnership with state coastal zone management programs and national estuarine research reserves. The funding is provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, through NOAA's Climate Ready Coasts initiative.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, with support from Virginia Department of Environmental Quality's Virginia Coastal Zone Management program, is seeking to protect one of the largest unprotected blocks of contiguous forest in the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed region, which includes nearly 250 acres of freshwater wetlands and 10 miles of stream reaches.

The property would be dedicated as part of Virginia's natural area preserve system and managed by the Virginia Natural Heritage Program.

"This important project will conserve a key expanse of land that is mapped in Virginia's Wildlife Corridor Action Plan, which will help to improve water quality in the Chowan River basin and the nationally significant Albemarle-Pamlico estuary," said DCR Director Matthew Wells. "We're also excited about the prospect of ultimately bringing opportunities for paddling and hiking to a currently underserved region - in line with our goals of increasing public access to the great outdoors in Virginia."

"Located between DCR's South Quay Sandhills Natural Area Preserve and the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, this property is within one of the state's most significant hotspots of biodiversity, with more than 100 species of high conservation need," said Jason Bulluck, director of the Virginia Natural Heritage Program. "This site presents the opportunity to restore and expand climate-resilient, native longleaf pine savannah ecosystems in southeast Virginia."

Partners include The Nature Conservancy, the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, or APNEP; and the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program.

The grant supports seeking dialogue with tribal nations who have ancestral ties to the region about the conservation and management of the land. Research will be done on the history of tribes with ancestral and present-day connections to the region and watershed.

"We are happy to embark on this ambitious project that will increase collaboration in our shared waterways of the Albemarle-Pamlico region, and ensure Tribal communities are included in decision making that will conserve this important ecosystem for generations to come," said APNEP Director Dr. Bill Crowell. APNEP, a federal-state program hosted by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, has launched Tribal Coastal Resilience Connections, which supports tribal communities in the region in considering climate resilience during community planning.


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