Eastern Virginia: Chesapeake Rivers Program

The Rappahannock, Mattaponi, and Pamunkey rivers, Cat Point Creek, and Dragon Run wind through the farms, forests, and historical sites of central and eastern Virginia. These waters represent some of the most pristine examples of tidal freshwater systems remaining in the Chesapeake Bay region and the entire East Coast.

Today, 15 million people rely on this landscape, posing a serious threat to the natural integrity of the region’s lands and waters. Inappropriate land and shoreline development places tremendous stress on wetland, marsh, and riparian habitats along these Chesapeake Bay tributaries. The Conservancy is addressing this threat by restoring habitat, partnering with private landowners, promoting sound land- and water-use practices, and other creative strategies. 

  • inappropriate development
  • incompatible forestry
  • invasive plant and fish species
  • sea level rise 
  • water management
  • bald cypress-tupelo swamp forest
  • sensitive joint-vetch
  • scrub oak
  • Parker’s pipewort
  • shad 
  • herring
  • bald eagle
  • migratory waterfowl
Our Conservation Strategy

Guided by conservation science, the Conservancy works with partners to protect the forests, lakes, wetlands and unique habitats of the Chesapeake Rivers. Below are some of the ways we work:

  • Land acquisition: We purchase land or interests in land and accept donations of land or conservation easements from willing sellers and donors.
  • Science-based conservation: The Conservancy recently partnered with the Mirant Corporation and Virginia Department of Forestry on a forest carbon study to guide restoration efforts.
  • Land management: Considered the second greatest threat to biodiversity, non-native invasive species spread quickly, disrupt natural cycles, and crowd out native species. Through research, monitoring, and effective control programs, the Conservancy works to minimize the impact of invasive plant and fish species.
  • Conservation easements: A conservation easement is a voluntary, legally binding agreement that limits certain types of uses or prevents development on a piece of property now and in the future, while protecting the property’s natural values.
  • Education and outreach: We foster a conservation ethic and appreciation for nature through education and outreach. The Conservancy works to influence land-use planning and is helping local communities learn about development approaches that preserve local character, history, traditions and, ultimately, the ecosystem itself.
  • Help to shape public policies: The Conservancy promotes sound land- and water-use policy on local, regional and state levels.  The Conservancy has committed funds toward a state initiative, the Virginia Invasive Species Council, to combat invasive species and joined a coalition of public and private groups to launch "Virginiaforever," a campaign to garner increased public support and state funding for conservation.
  • Community-based conservation: The Conservancy partners with local representatives from Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Friends of the Rappahannock, Friends of Dragon Run and the Dragon Run Steering Committee to protect the area’s waterways.
Program Milestones and Achievements
  • With partners, helped protect nearly 9,000 acres along Dragon Run.
  • Established two new state forests in project area.
  • Added 3,000 acres to the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Involved in the Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan and Dragon Run Watershed Management Plan.
  • Protected two Mattaponi River sites where 50 acres of wetlands will be restored. 
Contact Information

Andrew Lacatell
Chesapeake Rivers Program
Richmond, VA
Phone: (804) 644-5800