Forestry gets $50K to protect Meherrin River

Published 11:08 am Friday, October 6, 2017

The Virginia Department of Forestry has received a $50,000 Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grant to help partially fund the purchase of an open space easement to protect forests and farmland in Southampton County along the Meherrin River. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the grant along with 22 other recipients statewide on Tuesday.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, the property, known as the White Easement, contains nearly a mile and a half of frontage along the Meherrin River, which has been identified for future study as a state-designated scenic river. Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson said the land is located southwest of Boykins and just north of the North Carolina state line. The easement totals 544 acres, 450 of which is forestland and the rest, farmland.

Eighty-six percent of the forestland is classified as having high forest conservation value, and about half is under active management. The other half is composed of tupelo or cypress wetlands along the river.

According to the Department of Conservation and Recreation Natural Heritage Program, the property supports two natural heritage resources associated with the wetlands.

The easement will establish a habitat protection area over these wetlands and will safeguard the river frontage and nearly 10,000 feet of streams that flow directly into the river.

Scott Bachman, the Department of Forestry’s senior area forester for the Blackwater Work Area, which includes Isle of Wight County, Southampton County and the city of Suffolk, explained that because this is an easement and not an outright purchase of the land, the landowner will still retain ownership, but will transfer certain rights to the VDOF.