A look at Virginia’s Natural Heritage Program

December 31, 2011 · 1 minute read

 Rex Springston has an informative piece in today’s Times-Dispatch on Virginia’s Natural Heritage Program, which protects rare plant and animal species in its dozens of Natural Area Preserves. The pics by Dean Hoffmeyer are pretty spectacular, too.

One of my favorite NAPs is Cypress Bridge (seen in the pic above), near the North Carolina border on the Nottoway River. I wrote a column about it in the T-D back in 2009. The below is from the Heritage Program’s website.


Home to some of the biggest trees in Virginia, Cypress Bridge Swamp Natural Area Preserve offers a glimpse back to a time before the widespread clearing of America’s forests. The core of the preserve is home to trees estimated to be more than 1000 years old and an assortment of sylvan giants, including the largest Carolina ash in the nation, the largest swamp cottonwood in the state and former-champion overcup oak and water tupelos. A 123-foot tall bald cypress here briefly wore the crown for Virginia’s largest tree. Unfortunately, though it still towers over the swamp, this ancient specimen died shortly before the preserve was established. Much less conspicuous but no less significant, the state-rare shade mudflower is also found here. In all, the preserve encompasses nearly 380 acres – mostly bottomland hardwood forest – and borders the Nottoway River for more than three miles.