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Elklick Woodlands Natural Area Preserve
© DCR-DNH, Gary P. Fleming

Elklick Woodlands Natural Area Preserve


Elklick Woodlands Natural Area Preserve is owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority and was established through the cooperative efforts of the county, DCR and the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT). In addition to being dedicated as a state natural area preserve, the property is also protected with a conservation easement held by NVCT. The site supports one of the best remaining examples of a globally rare natural community known as a northern hardpan basic oak-hickory forest. This forest type, characterized by white oak (Quercus alba), pignut hickory (Carya glabra), white ash (Fraxinus americana) and redbud (Cercis canadensis var. canadensis), occurs on soils derived from diabase rock and characterized by dense plastic clay soil texture. These are commonly referred to as "shrink-swell" soils. On diabase soils, water ponds during wet periods; however, soil moisture is exceedingly low during droughts. Such fluctuation in soil moisture results in stunted, open-canopy trees but encourages a wide variety of grasses and herbs to occupy the sunlit understory. With a natural range restricted to just a few counties in the northern Virginia and Maryland Piedmont, most examples of this forest-type have disappeared due to the rapid urban and suburban growth of the area.

This preserve currently has no public access facilities. It is part of more extensive Fairfax County Park Authority land holdings in the area. For more information contact:

Senior Natural Resource Specialist
Natural Resource Management and Protection
Fairfax County Park Authority
(703) 324-8559

Fairfax Co. Park Authority
226 acres
By arrangement with Fairfax Co. Park Authority
Mike Lott, Northern Region Steward
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Natural Heritage
Stafford, VA 22555
(540) 658-8690.