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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: September 09, 2008
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New boat launch at Dameron Marsh Natural Area Preserve

(KILMARNOCK, VA) ? A new ?hand-carry? boat launch has opened at Dameron Marsh Natural Area Preserve in Northumberland County, Va. To make one of the most pristine areas of the Chesapeake Bay more accessible to the public, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation has built this launch site for canoes, kayaks and other small ?car-top? boats. A 75-yard trail leads to the water from the drop-off point that is accessible by vehicles.

Dameron Marsh is one of 54 high priority conservation sites in Virginia?s Natural Area Preserve System, which is managed by DCR?s Natural Heritage Program. The system provides protection for rare, threatened and endangered species and outstanding examples of natural communities. Dameron Marsh was established in 1998 to protect habitat for the federally threatened northeastern beach tiger beetle, as well as wetlands that support marsh-bird communities. Rare shore birds also visit the beaches here.

Severe storms over the past five years have caused the tiger beetle population at Dameron Marsh to drastically decline. During the same time, public visitation in the form of boat landing and recreational beach use has increased. This has forced DCR to close stretches of the preserve shoreline from mid-April through mid-October. Foot traffic and boat landing are not allowed at posted areas. However, extensive sections of preserve shoreline remain open to the public.

Tom Smith, director of the Natural Heritage Program, said, ?DCR built the boat launch to enhance public access to the area and provide a new opportunity for the local paddling crowd, in addition to protecting the remaining beetle population. This is a good way to accomplish both goals.?

The boat launch will be available during daylight hours. On weekends through October, DCR staff will be onsite to interpret the area for visitors.

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