The 252 acre property atop Fones Cliffs was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service using federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and will be added to the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge for permanent protection.
“Fones Cliffs is a high priority conservation site as it has one of the largest concentrations of bald eagles in the continental United States and we are proud to have it in the First District,” Wittman said. “After years of hard work and cooperation, I am thrilled the Department of Interior now has this land in the refuge system. Fones Cliffs and its wildlife will now be permanently preserved so it can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
The cliffs are a key feature of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and an iconic landmark for the Rappahannock Tribe and American history. Bald eagle experts commonly refer to Fones Cliffs as a bald eagle “bulls’ eye” and Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge staff commonly see almost 400 eagles along this stretch of river which use the property’s high elevation to survey the river for hunting opportunities. Entering the Refuge System will also expand public recreational capabilities for hiking, sightseeing, and more, while ensuring the land remains undeveloped.
“The significance of preserving the Fones Cliffs property goes beyond environmental conservation,” said Larry Selzer, President and CEO at The Conservation Fund. “It is a critical stepping stone in our nation’s history. Ensuring that Fones Cliffs remains protected and open to the public was the only acceptable result for this decades-long effort.”