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The Cedars in Lee County gets more acreage

Staff report • Oct 3, 2018 at 10:30 PM

RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has reported closing on three tracts of land to add to two state natural area preserves, including the Cedars Natural Area Preserve in Lee County.

The DCR said two tracts totaling nearly 44 acres were added to the Cedars, and 53 acres were added to Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve in Northampton County on the Eastern Shore.

“These three acquisitions, completed during Virginia Public Lands Week (last week), embody DCR’s dedication to protecting the very best of Virginia’s natural resources from our Eastern Shore to our southwest mountains,” said DCR Director Clyde Cristman. “With support from partners and the citizens of Virginia, we will continue to protect Virginia’s rare species habitat and natural communities for this and future generations.”

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Stickler said Gov. Ralph Northam “has committed his administration to protecting Virginia’s highest value lands, and the expansion of these two preserves is a great example of the high value lands we hope to continue to protect throughout the remainder of the governor’s time in office.”

The Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, Virginia Native Plant Society and Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program administered by the state Department of Environmental Quality helped facilitate the land purchases for the Cedars and Magothy Bay.

The Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS) raised funds for rare native plant and natural community conservation and contributed the money to DCR’s Natural Area Preservation Fund, a contribution critical to acquiring the two tracts for the Cedars, state officials said.

“The VNPS is proud to have helped with the acquisition of these important properties,” said Nancy Vehrs, the group’s president. “The Cedars is an area of incredible biodiversity, and now these additional parcels will be protected for generations to come.”

Biologists consider the Cedars a biodiversity hotspot and among the rarest species rich areas in North America. The preserve has many rare species including eight found nowhere else in Virginia. The Cedars lies within a karst region with caves providing rare species habitat. Many uncommon and imperiled fish and mussel species maintain a stronghold in the Clinch and Powell River watersheds due in part to decades of land protection and management.

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