Virginia

Fernbrook Natural Area


George and Jacintha Paschal donated the 63-acre tract in 1963 as a land gift and requested that it be preserved in its natural state.

The land was originally purchased in the 1700s for $45 — to be paid in installments over a nine-year period. Prior to 1963, it was used for agriculture, cattle and timber. For the first time since the original virgin timber was cut, the forest is being allowed to "complete" succession into a mature stand, paralleling the Shenandoah National Park, where the woodland is evolving to resemble pre-Colonial forest.

It is estimated that the land on the first ridge of the preserve was allowed to return to forest at about the time of the Civil War. The resulting upland hardwoods comprise approximately 100-year-old secondary growth forest. The oak-pine forest was farmland at one time. Slightly furrowed ground, a boundary fence, and piles of loose rocks indicate the former existence of a farm field. Farming ceased in the 1920s (probably due to the Depression, which hit farmers early), and vegetational succession began. It is rumored that the stony outcrop on the river bluff is the feature for which the local community of Stony Point was named.

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