Group donates 70-acre blue heron preserve to state

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One of the largest great blue heron nesting sites in the Chesapeake region is now under the protection of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust dedicated the 70-acre easement along the Potomac Creek to the state agency to expand the 2,942-acre Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford. DCR will monitor the heron rookery year-round “to maintain the ecological integrity of the wetland for generations to come,” a news release states.

The trust will retain ownership of the rookery, while DCR manages the site along with the rest of the preserve. While it won’t be open to the public immediately “due to the sensitivity of its native plant and wildlife habitat,” it will be considered for public trails in the future.

“Conservation happens when dedicated partners come together, and DCR is privileged to work with NVCT and Stafford County to make Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve a crown jewel among Virginia’s preserves,” DCR Director Clyde Cristman said in the release. “Saving this historic and biologically diverse land has taken the time, talent and dedication of many. Every step has ensured that this land will be preserved for generations to come.”