1,400 Acres Along Potomac Preserved (VA)

KING GEORGE, VA, 8/3/01: Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources John Paul Woodley, Jr. announced today that along the Potomac River, 1,431 acres of shoreline, hardwood forests, eagle habitat, farm fields, creeks and marshes will be preserved in perpetuity as the result of actions by nonprofit and agency partners. The secretary announced that conservation easements that prohibit future subdivision of a privately owned farm, limit development of buildings and allow continued agricultural usage have been acquired.

In addition, 1,107 acres of the property have been dedicated as a Virginia Natural Area Preserve and 35 acres of pasture will be restored to wetlands. The land remains in private ownership and is not open to the public.

The agreement with the landowner, James Nash, was negotiated by the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land conservation organization, which orchestrated a partnership of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“This is a tremendously significant piece of property,” said Secretary Woodley. “When combined with Caledon Natural Area, five miles of Potomac River shoreline and more than 4,000 acres of forest, farmland and marshes have been preserved as prime American Bald Eagle habitat. These preservation actions also move us closer to meeting the land preservation goals set in the new Chesapeake Bay Agreement.”

Photo by: Bill Portlock
The property has approximately 350 acres of open fields and pasture. The remainder is a mix of upland and bottomland hardwood forests and approximately 250 acres of tidal marshes along Chotank Creek. The farm also has three eagle nests, all active last year.

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation and Chesapeake Bay Foundation will monitor and enforce the easements. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will develop and implement a resource management plan for the newly established, 1,107-acre Chotank Creek Natural Area Preserve. The Nature Conservancy, using funds from the Virginia Wetlands Restoration Trust Fund administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will restore approximately 35 acres of pasture into wetlands.

“The Chotank Creek Natural Area Preserve marks only the second time that private land has been dedicated in Virginia,” said DCR Director David G. Brickley. “We hope Mr. Nash’s efforts will help start a trend.”

Photo by: Bill Portlock
“We are pleased to have been able to bring together many partners to make this important conservation transaction possible and are grateful to Mr. Nash and his family for ensuring the permanent protection of this important property,” said Debi Osborne, Chesapeake Field Office director for the Trust for Public Land. “Protecting this important property preserves not only land of local and historical significance, but also protects the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”

Mr. Nash has lived on the property since the early 1940s and has long been interested in preservation efforts. Beginning in the early 1980s Mr. Nash served on the task force appointed by then-Governor Charles Robb, to develop a management plan for Caledon Natural Area. He also hopes to establish a private foundation to own and manage the land in future generations. “I hope that this may become a living educational example,” said Mr. Nash.

This 4,000-acre area is one of the most significant summering spots for the American Bald Eagle on the East Coast, with more than 60 eagles spotted at one time.