The Nature Conservancy today offers its sincere congratulations to Governor Kaine and his administration for exceeding his historic goal to conserve 400,000 acres. Governor Kaine’s leadership and the hard work of so many mean that thousands of acres of forests, wetlands, natural areas, working farms, and scenic vistas are protected permanently for the enjoyment and benefit of future generations of Virginians.
"It is hard to overstate the significance of conserving more than 400,000 acres," said Michael Lipford, Director of The Nature Conservancy in Virginia. "First, Governor Kaine is leaving a permanent legacy on the ground for all Virginians to enjoy. Second, this goal has positioned land conservation at the center of Virginia's environmental policies. I believe that is an enduring legacy as well. The Nature Conservancy appreciates Governor Kaine's leadership and is proud to have played a role in this historic conservation achievement."
The Nature Conservancy, which has been active in Virginia for nearly 50 years, worked with state agencies and other partners to protect more than 43,119 acres of some of Virginia’s most important lands and waters over the last four years. Three of these projects are highlighted below.
Dragon Run — In May 2009, The Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Department of Forestry, and Hancock Timber Resource Group partnered to protect 4,200 acres along Dragon Run, the majority of which will be available for public access and recreation. Dragon Run includes the northern-most tidal cypress swamp community on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Ninety bird species, such as bald eagles and prothonotary warblers, are found in the area, along with 55 species of fish. The waters provide vital nurseries for perch, rockfish, and alewives, which are important for Chesapeake commercial fishermen and sportsmen.
Big Woods — In September 2006, The Nature Conservancy acquired 4,915 acres in Sussex County from International Paper Company to protect habitat for the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Over 4,000 acres of this property will be transferred to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Department of Forestry. Both agencies will provide public access to the property.
Rappahannock and Rapidan River Easement — In March 2007, The Nature Conservancy worked with the City of Fredericksburg and other local, state and federal partners to protect over 65 miles and over 4,000 acres of important riparian habitat upriver from Fredericksburg. The land is open to the public and provides a great recreational opportunity for fishermen and canoeists in a rapidly growing part of Virginia.
“It is important to remember that there are terrific individual projects and stories behind all the numbers,” says David Phemister, Director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy in Virginia. “The meaning and value of surpassing the 400,000-acre goal ultimately rests in the protection of those individual places, which collectively amount to a tremendous achievement that offers so much to all Virginians. 400,000 is more than a number. It is a critical affirmation and celebration of the lands and waters that make Virginia so special."
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.