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Green Expansion: Shenandoah Valley Expands Natural Area Restoration

In a boost to environmental restoration, the Shenandoah Valley has expanded with an addition of more than 35 acres to two of its natural area preserves in Augusta County, Virginia. This expansion is a key component of a larger initiative to revitalize the South Fork Shenandoah River watershed, which became contaminated by mercury decades ago.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, responsible for the state’s natural area preserve system, has acquired 26 acres of forest land adjacent to the Lyndhurst Ponds Natural Area Preserve. This expansion brings the total acreage of the preserve to 376 acres, facilitating land management practices such as prescribed burns and invasive species control.

“This new addition will better enable DCR’s natural area stewards to manage the rare species habitats at Lyndhurst Ponds Natural Area Preserve, which will include restoring portions of the preserve to the native grasslands and open woodlands of the historic Shenandoah Valley,” Jason Bulluck, director of the Virginia Natural Heritage Program, said in a press release.

Lyndhurst Ponds, located near the community of Lyndhurst, was designated as a natural area preserve in 2020. It is known for its Shenandoah Valley sinkhole ponds and hosts rare plant and animal species, including the federally threatened Virginia sneezeweed (Helenium virginicum) and Valley Doll’s Eyes (Boltonia montana).

The expansion was facilitated by the former property owners, Waynesboro Nurseries and the Quillen family, who had also contributed to the establishment of the original natural area preserve. 

“Waynesboro Nurseries and the Quillen family are delighted to contribute this additional acreage to the Lyndhurst Ponds Natural Area Preserve and protect more of this incredible natural habitat for future generations. It was a wonderful opportunity to cooperate with DCR again and know that under their stewardship this legacy is in good hands,” Ed Quillen, president of Waynesboro Nurseries, said in the same press release.

Cowbane Wet Prairie Natural Area Preserve in Augusta County. Image by Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation via dcr.virginia.gov

In September, the agency added a 9-acre parcel along the South River adjacent to the Cowbane Wet Prairie Natural Area Preserve, bringing the total acreage of that preserve to just over 156 acres. This parcel includes floodplain habitat along the river’s south bank, providing a buffer between the river and a residential area. It supports two rare plant species and a globally rare wetland type known as the Shenandoah Valley Prairie Fen.

The Cowbane Wet Prairie is located on the western slope of the Blue Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley and preserves wet prairies, mesic prairies, and calcareous spring marshes, ecosystems once common in the valley.

The funding for these expansions came from the DuPont Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration settlement. This settlement was in response to environmental damage caused by DuPont’s facility in Waynesboro, Virginia, which released mercury-containing wastewater into the South River during the 1930s and ’40s.

The contamination affected over 100 miles of river and habitats for various wildlife. In 2017, DuPont agreed to a $42 million settlement for restoration projects, becoming Commonwealth of Virginia and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the trustees of the settlement funds.

Featured image by Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation via dcr.virginia.gov

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February 19, 2024 3:14 pm

Incredibly exciting news! The enlargement of the Lyndhurst Ponds Natural Area Preserve is phenomenal for both nature and the community.

February 19, 2024 3:59 pm

Isn’t it fantastic news to hear about the expansion of the Lyndhurst Ponds Natural Area Preserve? Now visitors can explore an additional 26 acres of pristine forest land, providing more opportunities to witness the diverse plant and animal species. The recent 9-acre expansion of the Cowbane Wet Prairie Natural Area Preserve is also inspiring, offering nature enthusiasts the chance to discover and appreciate the unique wetland ecosystems of Virginia. What are you most looking forward to exploring in these expanded preserves?

Uri Woods
Uri Woods
February 19, 2024 5:49 pm

Isn’t it delightful how the Lyndhurst Ponds Natural Area Preserve is expanding, like adding an extra scoop of natural beauty to an already impressive sundae? With 26 more acres, it’s becoming a haven for rare species. I can’t wait to visit!

February 19, 2024 7:51 pm

I hope the widened natural area preserves won’t be adversely affected by human activities. It’s concerning for us to understand the delicate balance of the ecosystem and the importance of preserving these habitats for the benefit of rare plant and animal species. How can we ensure that the expansion leads to long-term protection for these valuable natural areas?

Julie Roberts
Julie Roberts
February 20, 2024 6:32 am

The expansion of the Lyndhurst Ponds Natural Area Preserve not only enhances land management practices but also presents an opportunity for educational programs and community involvement to raise awareness about the importance of preserving native habitats. Furthermore, the addition of the 9-acre parcel to the Cowbane Wet Prairie Natural Area Preserve offers potential for scientific research and ecological studies that could contribute to the broader understanding of wetland ecosystems in the Shenandoah Valley. I find these efforts truly enlightening and look forward to seeing the positive impact on the environment and the community.

February 20, 2024 7:26 am

What an amazing initiative! The enlargement of the Lyndhurst Ponds Natural Area Preserve is a fantastic step toward preserving the beauty of nature for future generations. 🌿

February 20, 2024 10:10 am

Did you realize? The enlargement of the Lyndhurst Ponds Natural Area Preserve will create new recreational opportunities for visitors. Also, the acquisition of the 9-acre parcel for the Cowbane Wet Prairie Natural Area Preserve will benefit native plant and animal species. Incredible!

Sandra Thomas
Sandra Thomas
March 13, 2024 3:59 pm

Isn’t it amazing how this expansion not only helps the environment but also opens doors for education and ecotourism? It sets a fantastic example for biodiversity restoration!

April 11, 2024 1:59 am

Isn’t it intriguing how they’re not just expanding the Lyndhurst Ponds Natural Area Preserve, but also planning educational programs and forming research partnerships to restore the ecosystem health? I find it really inspiring that they’re engaging the community and focusing on biodiversity protection in the region.


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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Green Expansion: Shenandoah Valley Expands Natural Area Restoration! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/virginia/green-expansion-shenandoah-valley-expands-natural-area-restoration/