Both the uplands and bottomlands along the Blackwater River in Virginia support many significant natural areas. From the sandhills adjoining the river which once supported longleaf pine to bottomland hardwoods and saturated swamps, these natural areas have been the target of private and public land conservation organizations for many years. Isle of Wight County is the owner of 2,348 acres and five and a half miles of frontage on the east side of the Blackwater River. The county sold an open space easement over that acreage to the Virginia Department of Forestry and the Department of Conservation and Recreation. This protection success is part of a larger project that is underway to protect bottomland hardwoods and restore longleaf pine sandhill vegetation on the lower Blackwater River.
Approximately 1/3 of the county property, about 815 acres, has been dedicated as the Blackwater Sandhills Natural Area Preserve. This natural area preserve includes 500 acres of old growth tupelo-baldcypress bottomland and and helps protect more than five miles of the Blackwater River. In addition to the old-growth bottomland forest, the preserve includes over 300 acres of sandhills and upland forest habitats where longleaf pine reforestation and frequent prescribed burning will be used to restore fire-maintained Pine / Scrub Oak Sandhill communities.
This preserve is owned by Isle of Wight County and is not yet open to the public.
Darren Loomis, Southeast Region Steward
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Division of Natural Heritage