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The protection of Crow's Nest is arguably one of Virginia's highest land conservation achievements, becoming a reality in 2008 with the first acquisition parcel. In 2009, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and Stafford County added 1,110 acres to the Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve, bringing the total area of Virginia's 54th state natural area preserve to 2,872 acres. Funding for the two tracts purchased 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, simply, a beautiful place and considered highly significant from numerous standpoints. Topography is varied, with the high narrow ridgeline rising 160 feet above two tidally influenced creeks: Potomac and Accokeek. The peninsula is deeply dissected on both its northern and southern flanks by a series of deep ravines cutting into ancient coastal plain marine sediments and feeding tidal marshes along the bordering creeks.
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;
lands and waters that have played important roles in the Native American, Colonial and Civil War histories of Virginia.
VISITATION: The large area of open-space protected as Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve, plus its location near a major population center, represents great potential for providing passive recreation and outdoor education opportunities for Virginia's citizens as well as visitors to the Commonwealth. The first staff and operations resources to support management of Crow’s Nest are now in place, and initial public access facilities opened as of 2014. Look for additional access opportunities as more facilities, including expanded vehicle access and parking, are implemented at the preserve.
Phase I public access facilities are now complete, and the preserve is currently open to a limited degree. The Brooke Road access point offers parking for 20 cars, a shoreline birding/nature trail to viewpoints of Accokeek Creek, and an ADA-accessible canoe/kayak launch facility for the Crow’s Nest Water Trail. Plans are also underway for an improved 1.6-mile long access road into the preserve from Raven Road, which will allow visitors to reach the Phase II interior parking area and hiking trail system, featuring 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
(540) 658-8690 firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Conservation and Recreation Natural Heritage Program
600 E. Main St., 24th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219