Nature Conservancy and Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Protect Critical Habitat Along Clinch River, Expanding State Natural Area Preserves to over 50,000 Acres

Acquisition of Lark Family property will protect 63.83 acres of unique habitat

ABINGDON, VA | February 10, 2011

The Nature Conservancy and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation announce the acquisition of 63.83 acres of important habitat along the Clinch River, dedicated as part of the Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve.

Virginia’s Natural Area Preserve System now contains 60 Natural Area Preserves, protecting 50,025 acres, providing important natural area access for Virginia’s citizens, and securing habitat for 587 exemplary natural communities and rare plant and animal species.  These new protected areas along the Clinch River also reduce sedimentation and provide natural pollution barriers, helping to keep streams and rivers healthy for mussels, fish and for the freshwater we all need. 

The acquisition was supported by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Recovery Land Acquisition Grant, administered by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the Virginia 2002 Park and Natural Areas Bond.

“This property is a priority for The Nature Conservancy and its partners for reducing the impact of sedimentation in the Clinch River, one of the primary threats for fish, freshwater mussels and other life in the river,” said Steve Lindeman, Land Protection Program Manager with The Nature Conservancy.  “The Clinch River is an important source of freshwater to the communities of southwestern Virginia and we thank the Lark Family for their long-term conservation vision.”

Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve, named for an impressive rock formation, is known for its cliffs, limestone ledges, waterfalls and globally rare natural communities and species. The area has hiking trails and is popular for nature study and photography.

The Clinch River, part of which is a designated Virginia Scenic River, is home to the most diverse fish populations in the upper Tennessee River basin and the most diverse of all river basins in Virginia, including 45 species of fish and globally rare freshwater mussels. The acquisition of the two tracks of land along the river will prevent excess sedimentation and other pollution associated with irresponsible development.

“The protected area along the Clinch River is an important step toward Gov. Bob McDonnell’s pledge to protect 400,000 acres during his term for Virginians to enjoy for generations to come,” said David A. Johnson, Director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

"This key addition to the Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve provides important water-quality protection for the many globally rare freshwater fish and mussels in the Clinch, and moves the State Natural Area Preserve System over the 50,000-acre benchmark," said Tom Smith, DCR Natural Heritage Director.

The property is now owned by the Nature Conservancy and will be transferred to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at a future date as part of the Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Contact information

Tom McCann
Associate Director, The Nature Conservancy
Arlington, VA
(703) 841-5317

Julie Buchanan
Virginia Department of Conservation

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