Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge
The refuge includes more than a dozen different units and conservation easements located in five Virginia counties along the banks of the Rappahannock as it winds its way through eastern Virginia to its mouth in the Chesapeake Bay. The Rappahannock NWR hosts Virginia’s largest winter roost for bald eagles and is an important stop for migrating birds along the Atlantic Flyway each spring and fall, earning it a designation as an Important Bird Area.
With an eventual goal of conserving 20,000 acres of wetland and upland habitat along the river and its major tributaries, the refuge currently consists of 8,707 acres of freshwater tidal marsh, forest swamp, upland deciduous forest, mixed pine forest and grassland habitats. We’re working with a broad array of government and private partners to help the refuge expand its boundaries.
Our RoleIn 2008, we partnered with the U.S. Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB), the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to secure nearly 700 acres of conservation easements along the Rappahannock at Camden Farm. The easements protect this area’s natural and archaeological resources, while forming a buffer zone that limits development around Fort A.P. Hill, one of the East Coast’s largest military training installations.
Prior to 2008, we joined forces with Bass Pro Shops, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a generous landowner to protect and restore 460 acres as an addition to the Rappahannock River NWR. Located along Farnham Creek, a tributary of the Rappahannock, the land features wetlands and forests that are ideal habitat for migrating waterfowl and songbirds.
Why This Project MattersDevelopment pressures along the Rappahannock are mounting, lending urgency to the Rappahannock NWR’s goal of conserving 20,000 acres of land for the refuge. Urban and suburban development also can hinder military training exercises at Fort A.P. Hill which, at 76,000 acres, is one of the largest military training facilities on the East Coast.
Along the Rappahannock, the ACUB program has allowed The Fund and its partners to share the cost of acquiring conservation easements from willing landowners, preserving working lands and important wildlife habitat while limiting future land use and development and allowing the U.S. Army to fulfill its training mission without interference.