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NATURAL HERITAGE

About the Rare Plants and Animals Lists

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Natural Heritage Program (VANHP) was established to protect Virginia's Natural Heritage Resources. These resources are defined in the Virginia Natural Area Preserves Act of 1989 (Section 10.1-209 through 217, Code of Virginia), as "the habitat of rare, threatened, and endangered plant and animal species; exemplary natural communities, habitats, and ecosystems; and other natural features of the Commonwealth". VANHP is the state's only comprehensive program for conservation of our natural heritage and includes an intensive statewide biological inventory, field surveys, electronic and manual database management, environmental review capabilities, and natural area protection and stewardship. Through such a comprehensive operation, the Program identifies Natural Heritage Resources which are in need of conservation attention while creating an efficient means of evaluating the impacts of balanced economic growth.

To achieve this protection, VANHP maintains lists of the most significant elements of our natural diversity. These lists focus the Program's inventory on the Natural Heritage Resources most likely to be lost without conservation action in the near future. Most importantly, these lists are not only useful for VANHP, but can be used by other agencies, organizations, and individuals to guide protection and development decision-making. In formulating these lists, the Program uses information from previous studies, museum records, the observations and opinions of experts, DCR-DNH staff scientists, and field inventories.

Natural Heritage Resource lists are necessarily dynamic and are revised annually, with updates occurring as data become available. Such revisions assure the most current knowledge of the status of Virginia's plants and animals. Taxa are added to the list when it is determined that they have become rare or threatened to such an extent that their continued existence in Virginia is in jeopardy. Species are deleted from the list when data indicate they are common and do not warrant priority conservation efforts.

If you do not have a list revised in the last year, please request a new edition from the Natural Heritage Program. Also, if you have information which could refine this list, please contact VANHP botanists or zoologists

All plants and animals which are officially protected by federal or state endangered species acts are included in these lists. The Office of Plant Protection within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has regulatory responsibility for the listing and protection of Virginia's endangered and threatened plants and insects, under the Virginia Endangered Plant and Insect Act (Section 3.1 -1020 through 1030, Code of Virginia). The Act provides for the official listing and recovery of endangered and threatened plant and insect species in Virginia. The Act also establishes a permit system for collection of listed species. As of January 1996, there are 14 state-listed plant species and 57 candidates for listing. A memorandum of agreement between DCR-DNH and VDACS facilitates data transfer between agencies and allows DCR-DNH to nominate candidate species for listing by VDACS.

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has regulatory responsibility for listing and protecting Virginia's endangered and threatened animals under Virginia's Endangered Species Act (Code of Virginia, Section 29.1-564-568). The Act prohibits the taking, transportation, sale, etc. of endangered and threatened species, except as permitted, and provides for official listing and recovery of these species. As of June 1995, there are 103 state-listed animal species.

Federally listed species are protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The U.S. Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service administers the Act, listing and protecting federally endangered and threatened species. As of January 1996, there are 14 plant species federally listed as endangered or threatened which occur in Virginia, and 1 plant which is a candidate for listing. No additional Virginia plant species are formally proposed for federal listing at this time. As of January, 1996 there are 42 animal species which are federally listed and 1 candidate for listing. Additionally, 4 animal species are proposed for federal listing.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service work cooperatively to insure the continued survival of Virginia's diverse flora, fauna, and other elements of natural diversity. TheVirginia Natural Heritage Program also works closely with other state and federal agencies, local governments, conservation organizations, and other organizations and individuals to seek adequate protection of Virginia's natural heritage.


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