Hunting uncertain for 2,300 acres in IOW

Published 1:48 pm Saturday, September 8, 2012

ISLE OF WIGHT—Public access will be allowed on portions of more than 2,300 acres Isle of Wight County has agreed to leave undeveloped to help conserve rare tree species.

The county hasn’t yet discussed whether hunting or fishing will be allowed, said IOW spokesman Don Robertson.

“Fishing might be a possibility,” he said. “I don’t know if we’d open it up to hunting. Anytime you have hunting involved there’s the potential for liability issues.”

In addition, the county plans to allow hiking and horseback riding on the property between Proctor’s Bridge and Broadwater roads in Carrsville and will build a launch site for canoes and kayaks, Robertson said.

The land has 5½ miles of frontage on the Blackwater River.

The county in 2010 purchased the land for $5 million from Conservation Forestry in Exeter, N.H., for conservation purposes.

The county received $850,000 from the federal Forest Legacy Program Fund, $566,000 from the Virginia Land Conservation Fund and $75,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help with the purchase.

The county was paid $947,000 to enter into a conservation easement with the state Department of Forestry and the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Julie Buchanan, a spokeswoman for DCR, said about a third of the land would become the Blackwater Sandhills Natural Area Preserve, the 61st such preserve in the state.

“These are places that have exceptional habitat for rare plant and animal species,” she said.

The county’s land includes old growth cypress and Tupelo gum trees.

In addition, rare longleaf pine will also be planted throughout the 815-acre preserve, she said.

The Department of Forestry will oversee management of the land, but the county will retain ownership.

“This easement will forever protect from development a key forested property that fronts a critical source of clean water while increasing recreational opportunities and enhancing wildlife habitat in the area,” said State Forester Carl Garrison.

“It’s a big win for residents of Isle of Wight County and all the citizens of the Commonwealth.”