The Nature Conservancy has opened a new interpretive trail to the public at Piney Grove Preserve in Sussex County.The preserve is the only site in Virginia where the state’s rarest bird, the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, can be found.
The trail opened on Earth Day with a ceremony dedicated to Constance duPont Darden. Mrs. Darden was a former first lady of Virginia, married to Governor Colgate Darden. Mrs. Darden was a long-time and enthusiastic conservationist before the term was made popular, and she was particularly noted for her knowledge and love of Virginia’s birds.
Funded by a gift from Irene Darden Field and the Joshua P. Darden Jr. family, the trail showcases a variety of different habitats supporting both common and rare birds of southeastern Virginia.The gift included support for acquisition of two key properties to advance recovery efforts for the red-cockaded woodpecker. Stewardship activities also supported by the Darden gift have contributed to the preserve’s recentdesignation by the Audubon Society as a Globally Important Bird Area.
"Thanks to the generosity of the Darden family, a new trail is available for visitors to see the beauty and fascinating history of the majestic pine forests once common in southeastern Virginia and now restricted to a few places like Piney Grove Preserve," said Michael L. Lipford, Virginia director of The Nature Conservancy.
The ceremony included a tribute from former Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Tayloe Murphy and comments on the wildlife significance of Piney Grove Preserve by Conservancy board member Dr. Mitchell Byrd.
The trail is open to the public daily from February through October.Directions to the preserve and brochures are available by calling The Nature Conservancy in Richmond at (804) 644-5800 or by visiting our Piney Grove Preserve page.
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 www.nature.org.