Flowing through the largest block of forested land remaining in the Chesapeake Bay, Dragon Run looks much the same today as they did to colonial explorers. Identified by INSTAR as one of the healthiest rivers in Virginia, the river also supports an abundance of fish and wildlife, plants and ancient cypress trees.
Throughout the watershed there are extensive tidal and nontidal wetlands. It's also the northernmost reach for bald cypress swamps. Some trees here are over 500 years old. Located in the Middle Peninsula, "the Dragon" winds for 40 miles through King and Queen, Essex, Gloucester and Middlesex counties. Partially tidal, it feeds into the Piankatank River and then into the Chesapeake Bay.
The aquatic biodiversity is exceptional for a watershed the size of Dragon Run. Over 55 fish species have been observed here. These include freshwater game fish such as yellow perch, white perch, redbreast sunfish, chain and redfin pickerel. This also includes migratory fish, such as American shad, blueback herring and striped bass, that live most of the year in the Atlantic Ocean and make spawning runs up the river in the spring. There are very few non-native species and there are several rare species including darters and shiners.
The natural ecosystem has survived primarily because the area is largely undeveloped - about 80 percent of the area is forested and the rest is primarily agricultural. Very few people live in the watershed, and there are only a few bridge crossings.
Click here to view the complete story about Dragon Run in the Healthy Waters book.