Most of South Quay (pronounced "key") Sandhills Natural Area Preserve is located in the southwest corner of Suffolk bordering the Blackwater River and the North Carolina state line. A small portion of the preserve is situated across the Blackwater River in Southampton County. The preserve consists of 3,143 acres of bottomland forests and sandy uplands along the Blackwater River plus includes Virginia's last remaining natural stand of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris). Seeds collected from this remnant forest at the northern range limit of longleaf pine present a unique opportunity for longleaf pine restoration efforts in the Commonwealth. Restoring longleaf pine to over 1,500 acres of sandy uplands at the preserve will be a primary management focus for DCR.
Habitat for rare species of plants and animals associated with frequently-burned longleaf forests will be enhanced, and rare wetland community types will be protected and restored. Prescribed burning will promote and maintain the development of diverse groundcover vegetation on the sandy pine uplands and wetland transition zones. In addition to prescribed burning, management activities will include conversion of upland loblolly pine/hardwood stands to longleaf pine, on-going biological inventory and monitoring, invasive species control, whitetail deer population management, boundary marking and maintenance, and developing public access opportunties. Successful long-term management will involve cooperation among the DCR's partners, including International Paper, Virginia Department of Forestry, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy.
Plans for public access facilities have not yet been developed. Future uses are likely to include hiking, education and research.
City of Suffolk and Southampton County
By Arrangement with Steward
Darren Loomis, SE Region Steward
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Division of Natural Heritage Suffolk, VA
Department of Conservation and Recreation Natural Heritage Program
600 E. Main St., 24th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219