New Wildlife Management Area Established in New Kent County, Virginia.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) announced today its purchase of over 2,600 acres of land in eastern New Kent County. This acquisition, approved by the VDGIF board for the price of $9.3 million dollars, includes more than 2 miles of frontage on the York River in addition to 5 miles along the Ware and Philbates creeks. The property contains substantial tidal and upland wildlife habitat and will be a significant addition to the VDGIF’s Wildlife Management Area system.
"Our partners play a very important role in the acquisition and future conservation of these valuable coastal wetlands," said Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Executive Director Bob Duncan. "The support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia, the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy in Virginia, Virginia State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, and private individuals in the Williamsburg area demonstrate a broad and significant community-level commitment to this acquisition. Their enthusiasm and interest in resource conservation and opportunities for increased public access for hunting, fishing and wildlife watching in coastal Virginia was pivotal in ensuring the success of this project.”
Extensive funding for the acquisition of this property came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the form of two National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants and a Wildlife Restoration Grant, all administered through their Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.
“Coastal wetlands are among the richest and most important natural places on the planet. They protect against flooding, provide habitat for wildlife, and contribute to outdoor recreational opportunities," said Colleen Sculley, Chief of the Northeast Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. “National Coastal Wetland grant funds are generated from excise taxes paid on fishing equipment and motor boat fuels paid by boaters and sportsmen and women. Wildlife Restoration grant funds come from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. The acquisition and protection of these lands highlight the important role that hunters, anglers and boaters play in the conservation of fish and wildlife in this country.”
Located minutes from Interstate 64 about halfway between the Hampton Roads and Richmond metropolitan areas, the property includes over 720 acres of tidal wetlands, 1800 acres of upland forested habitats, and 100 acres of croplands. These valuable ecosystems are home to a variety of wildlife, including deer and turkey, small game such as rabbits and squirrels, waterfowl, black ducks, teal, mallards, and a host of neo-tropical songbirds including warblers, thrushes, tanagers, and vireos.
Governor Terry McAuliffe, a devoted advocate for public access, called attention to this purchase as part of a larger strategy for conservation in the Commonwealth. “Investments like this double down on our most valuable asset: Virginia’s natural environment. In addition to providing public access in perpetuity, this property will serve as a crucial filter for runoff entering our waterways. Its benefits will be felt, not just regionally by outdoor enthusiasts, but throughout Virginia and the bay watershed.”
"This Wildlife Management Area is a perfect addition to Governor McAuliffe’s ‘Virginia Treasures’ program and supports our overall efforts to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. "We’re adding over 2,600 acres of public land, conserving important habitat, and providing exciting, new recreational opportunities to this growing region of Virginia.”
Details on usage, public access, permit requirements, and land management strategies are still being developed as part of VDGIF’s detailed management plan for the site. Extensive work is needed to build appropriate infrastructure for public access and land management. It is the VDGIF’s hope to open the area to public access in early June to coincide with the Department’s 100th Anniversary.
The VDGIF currently owns 41 Wildlife Management Areas around the Commonwealth, encompassing over 200,000 acres. More information about these properties may be found at www.dgif.virginia.gov/wmas/.