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Media inquiries: Please contact Julie Buchanan, julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-2292.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: September 12, 2011
Contact: Julie Buchanan, Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-2292, julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov

Explore some of Virginia's best-kept natural areas Oct. 8

RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Natural Heritage Program will celebrate its 25th anniversary Saturday, Oct. 8, with field days at natural area preserves across the state.

The field days are free and open to the public. They offer a unique opportunity to experience some of Virginia’s best natural communities. Each event will include guided group hikes and natural-history interpretation by DCR Natural Heritage staff and volunteers.

Hosting multiple field days on the same day, statewide, is a first for the Virginia Natural Heritage Program. Events will be held at the following natural area preserves:

Buffalo Mountain, Floyd County
Cape Charles, Northampton County
Crow’s Nest, Stafford County
Dameron Marsh, Northumberland County
Difficult Creek, Halifax County
Grassy Hill, Franklin County
Hughlett Point, Northumberland County
Ogdens Cave, Frederick County
Pinnacle, Russell County
Savage Neck, Northampton County
Unthanks Cave, Lee County
Zuni Pine Barrens, Isle of Wight County

To read a description of each preserve and register online, go to: http://go.usa.gov/05X

Advance registration is required. The number of participants will be limited at some locations to ensure participant safety and enjoyment, and to protect resources at certain natural areas. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration also can be made by calling 804-396-4327.

DCR’s Natural Heritage Program launched in 1986 as a cooperative effort between The Nature Conservancy and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The program’s mission is to conserve Virginia’s biodiversity through inventory, database management, land protection and ecological stewardship. The program has twice been recognized as the Outstanding Program in the NatureServe Natural Heritage Network, which covers all 50 states and Canadian provinces and 19 Latin American programs.

“In 25 short years, Virginia’s Natural Heritage Program has risen as one of the leading members of the NatureServe Natural Heritage Network, thanks to a fantastic group of volunteers, partners, and, of course, staff at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation,” said DCR Director David A. Johnson.

Virginia’s natural area preserve system is managed by DCR staff. To date, the system includes 60 properties and more than 50,000 acres of protected lands. These preserves contain some of the best examples of natural communities and rare plant and animal habitats in the state, and in the world. Forty preserves are owned by DCR, while 20 are owned by local governments, universities, private citizens or The Nature Conservancy.

“Three hundred species new to Virginia, 30 species new to science, and 587 natural communities and rare species protected on the natural area preserve system is something for all Virginians to be very proud of and recognize as a legacy for many generations to come,” said Tom Smith, DCR Natural Heritage Program director.

For more information or to arrange advance media coverage, contact DCR Public Relations Specialist Julie Buchanan at 804-786-2292 or julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov.

Get updates at www.facebook.com/virginianaturalheritageprogram.

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