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Gov. Northam dedicates Piney Grove Flatwoods as Virginia’s 66th natural area preserve

The Piney Grove Flatwoods is home to numerous rare species including the endangered...
The Piney Grove Flatwoods is home to numerous rare species including the endangered red0cockaded woodpecker. File Photo.
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 11:18 AM EST
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SUSSEX, Va. (WWBT) - Gov. Northam dedicated Piney Grove Flatwoods in Sussex County as Virginia’s 66th natural area preserve today.

The 446 acres of woodlands are home to many rare species including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.

This new preserve is part of the 10,000-acre conservation area that includes Big Woods State Forest, Big Woods Wildlife Management Area, and The Nature Conservancy’s Big Woods.

“We have worked hard to preserve more than 120,000 additional acres to benefit Virginians,” said Northam. “Virginia’s natural area preserves have protected many of our rarest ecosystems, water quality, cultural heritage sites, and scenic views. Conservation efforts like this allow species to adapt to changing climates and are key to protecting Virginia’s environment.”

During Northam’s time as governor, his administration has permanently conserved 120,218 acres of land and awarded more than $21.5 million in land conservation funding and grants through the Virginia Land Conservation Fund. 3,411 natural area preserve acres have been added, including Lyndhurst Ponds, Cave Hill, and Piney Grove Flatwoods.

“The Piney Grove Flatwoods Natural Area Preserve is an exemplary collaborative effort between the Commonwealth and the Nature Conservancy,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Ann Jennings. “It connects an ecologically significant area that spans 10,000 acres and includes Big Woods State Forest and Big Woods Wildlife Management Area. This allows Virginia to protect large, interconnected ecosystems to provide multiple benefits and improve water quality for all.”

The Nature Conservancy received a grant from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation in 2020 to purchase Piney Grove Flatwoods Natural Area Preserve. They are working with the Department of Recreation and Conservation to obtain and protect the land.

A Natural Area Deed of Dedication for the property was recorded in September which provides the highest level of permanent land conservation possible in Virginia and prohibits land uses that would harm natural heritage resources.

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