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Field Day Oct. 8 at Zuni Pine Barrens and Other State Preserves

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Natural Heritage Program will celebrate its 25th anniversary Saturday, Oct. 8, with field days at natural area preserves across the state, including at the Zuni Pine Barrens in Isle of Wight County where Old Dominion University owns the Blackwater Ecological Preserve.

The field days are free and open to the public, although participants must register in advance. The events offer unique opportunities to experience some of Virginia's best natural communities. Each will include guided group hikes and natural-history interpretation by DCR Natural Heritage staff and volunteers.

Hosting multiple field days on the same day, statewide, is a first for the Virginia Natural Heritage Program.

The Blackwater Preserve is one of two adjacent natural areas that compose the Zuni Pine Barrens. The other is the Antioch Pines Natural Area Preserve owned by the DCR. Both preserves have been dedicated as state natural area preserves due to their outstanding conservation value. The Blackwater Preserve harbors one of the last remaining longleaf pine associations in Virginia, while the similar Antioch Pines Preserve is known for its old-growth loblolly pines. Both retain savanna-like characteristics (biological and physical) that are extremely rare in Virginia. Together, they encompass 718 acres.

Other preserves where events are scheduled are:

Buffalo Mountain, Floyd County

Cape Charles, Northampton County

Crow's Nest, Stafford County

Dameron Marsh, Northumberland County

Difficult Creek, Halifax County

Grassy Hill, Franklin County

Hughlett Point, Northumberland County

Ogdens Cave, Frederick County

Pinnacle, Russell County

Savage Neck, Northampton County

Unthanks Cave, Lee County

To read a description of each preserve and register online, go to: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/spevents.shtml. Registration also can be made by calling 804-396-4327.

Registration is on a first-come basis. , and the number of participants will be limited at some locations to ensure participant safety and enjoyment, and to protect natural resources.

DCR's Natural Heritage Program launched in 1986 as a cooperative effort between The Nature Conservancy and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The program's mission is to conserve Virginia's biodiversity through inventory, database management, land protection and ecological stewardship. The program has twice been recognized as the Outstanding Program in the NatureServe Natural Heritage Network, which covers all 50 states and Canadian provinces and 19 Latin American programs.

Get updates at www.facebook.com/virginianaturalheritageprogram.

This article was posted on: September 29, 2011

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