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Date: March 31, 2009

Cypress Bridge Swamp joins Virginia Natural Area Preserve System
Ancient forest now protected

(SOUTHAMPTON, VA) – Roughly 380 acres along the Nottoway River are now preserved as Cypress Bridge Swamp Natural Area Preserve by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. This tract of land is home to some of the largest trees in Virginia, with some reaching around 100 feet tall and 12 feet in width. This property also includes the previous record-holder of Virginia’s largest tree: the bald cypress called “Big Mama,” which is deceased but should remain standing for decade.

Cypress Bridge Swamp becomes the 57th site dedicated to Virginia’s Natural Area Preserve System, which is managed by DCR’s Natural Heritage staff. The system provides protection for outstanding examples of natural communities and rare, threatened and endangered species. Natural Heritage ecologists discovered the site in November 2005, and DCR bought the preserve from Sustainable Forests LLC using a combination of funds from the Virginia Public Building Authority Bond and a grant from an anonymous private donation.

Joseph H. Maroon, DCR director, said, “Sustainable Forests has kept this property in pristine condition for many years, and the Commonwealth is pleased to be able to protect it in perpetuity.”

The land borders three miles of the Nottoway River, and 40 acres in the swamp have never been harvested. DCR scientists estimate that some of these trees are more than 1,000 years old.

Tom Smith, director of DCR’s Natural Heritage Program, said, “By protecting this tract of land, we’re saving a biological treasure that takes any visitor on a trip back in time. The site has the largest Carolina ash in the nation, the largest swamp cottonwood in the state, and a state-rare plant called the shade mudflower.”

No public access facilities are planned for the property. Access to the site may be arranged through Darren Loomis, southeast region natural areas steward, at (757) 925-2318 or


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