Home Stafford County: Virginia DCR acquires 228 acres of forest, wetlands for preservation

Stafford County: Virginia DCR acquires 228 acres of forest, wetlands for preservation

Courtesy of Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation.

More than 200 acres of ecologically significant upland forest and forested wetlands along Accokeek Creek in Stafford County have been added to Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve.

The added acreage to the preserve ensures protection for biodiversity conservation.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation recently acquired a 228-acre Accokeek Bottomlands parcel, which is adjacent to another freshwater tidal marsh tract added in 2022. The acquisition brings the total acreage of the preserve, located in a rapidly developing area in northern Virginia, to 3,343.

Dedicated in 2008 as the state’s 54th preserve, Crow’s Nest offers public outdoor recreation amenities and regularly hosts fieldtrips for local schools and community groups. DCR, Stafford County and the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust own and manage the preserve in a joint partnership that has been critical to successful conservation at Crow’s Nest.

“This is an especially important addition to Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve. It expands the preserve for future resiliency, and includes habitat for rare plants and native wildlife,” said Jason Bulluck, director of DCR’s Virginia Natural Heritage Program, which manages the state’s natural area preserve system. “We’ve been working with community partners on long-term efforts to monitor breeding bird and amphibian populations at Crow’s Nest, which are within the Lower Potomac Important Bird Area as designated by the National Audubon Society. As recently as last year, our natural areas stewardship staff documented least bittern, one of the rare animal species we track, in the marshes along Accokeek Creek.”

Crow’s Nest is a peaceful place for visitors to hike through mature hardwood forests, observe birds and wildlife and take in views of creeks and dramatic ravines. The preserve is located on a peninsula between two tidal creeks, the Accokeek and Potomac, and amenities are available for kayaking and canoeing.

The funding for the expansion of the preserve came from a grant awarded by the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, which is celebrating its 25th year.

Crow’s Nest is one of 21 natural area preserves that currently provides public access for low-impact recreation activities. The limited parking spots – available on a first-come, first-served basis – are intended to prevent overcrowding that would detract from a quiet and relaxing visitor experience and would harm the sensitive natural resources the preserve must protect. Visitors are welcome, and encouraged to check the preserve web page before planning a trip.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.