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© DCR-DNH, Gary P. Fleming

Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve


The protection of Crow's Nest has been one of Virginia's highest land conservation priorities for more than ten years. In July 2009, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation added 1,110 acres to the Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve. This brought the total Preserve acreage of Virginia's 54th state natural area preserve to 2,872 acres. Funding for this purchase came from a variety of sources including DCR, Stafford County, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Aquatic Resources Trust fund of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Nature Conservancy, and the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation.

Crow's Nest is a highly significant and beautiful place and the topography of Crow's Nest is quite varied. The high, narrow peninsula rises 160 feet above the tidally influenced Potomac and Accokeek Creeks, and is deeply dissected on both its northern and southern sides by a series of ravines cutting steeply down to the bordering creeks. The Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve supports:

  • 750 acres of tidal and non-tidal wetlands. The wetlands on the Crow's Nest peninsula account for 60 percent of all the marshes in Stafford County, and represent some of the best examples of diverse and intact wetland habitats in the Potomac River drainage.
  • 21 miles of stream, riparian and wetland buffer;
  • 2,200 acres of mature hardwood forest including two forest types that are recognized as globally rare by DCR's Natural Heritage Program;
  • nesting bald eagles, habitat for the federally listed short-nose sturgeon, and habitat for twenty-two plant species that are significant for the Coastal Plain of Virginia;
  • habitat for about 60 species of neotropical migratory songbirds, nearly 60 percent of which are experiencing population declines, including ten species that are high global priority species of Partners In Flight;
  • spawning, nursery and/or feeding habitat for 49 species of interjurisdictional fish and seven species of mussels and commercially valuable shellfish;
  • a property that has played an important role in the Native American, Colonial and Civil War histories in Virginia.

The large area of open-space protected as Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve, plus its location near a major population center, represent great potential for providing passive recreation and outdoor education opportunities for large numbers of Virginia's citizens. However, significant staff and operations resources are needed before public access can be effectively implemented at the preserve.

Check the list of FAQ for more information.

DCR & Stafford County
2872 acres
Public access facilities are under construction.  The preserve is currently open to a limited degree.  The Brooke Road access point offers parking for 20 cars and a short birding/nature trail to a viewpoint of Accokeek Creek.  Funds have been secured and plans are underway for a water/paddling trail originating at the Brooke Road access point.  Hiking trails are also under construction that will feature interpretive information about the natural and cultural history of Crow's Nest.
Mike Lott,Northern Region Steward,
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Natural Heritage
Stafford, VA
(540) 658-8690