The key component to sustaining Virginia's hunting and angling heritage is making sure Virginians have a place to hunt and fish. To that end, The Wildlife Foundation has assisted in the acquisition of over 7,000 acres to open to outdoor enthusiasts. We have worked cooperatively with state agencies and private landholders in Albemarle County, Accomack County, Fluvanna County, Charles City County, Madison County, and Rockbridge County to promote public access initiatives. Following is a list of our key acquisition projects:
Since 1997, WFV has owned 2,000 acres in Albemarle County, near Scottsville. This property is managed for no-fee public access to hunting, fishing, hiking, bird-watching, and horseback riding. Please visit our Fulfillment Farms page for additional information about this unique property.
In December, 2012, WFV purchased 192 acres in Accomack County, on Virginia's Eastern Shore. This property was purchased in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' purchase of an adjacent 447 acres. WFV was able to use substantial federal funding, as well as a significant grant from Ducks Unlimited, to secure our acreage on behalf of VDGIF. In 2013, we will give the property to VDGIF to incorporate into their acreage, with the ultimate end being a new Wildlife Management Area on the Eastern Shore. Level Ponds is comprised primarily of waterfowl impoundments, but does contain some upland forested areas. It is a remarkable piece of property, and once open to the public, will provide meaningful access to some of the finest offerings on the Chesapeake Bay.
In 2002, The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia gifted 110 acres of tidal marshland and beach to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Located just south of the waterfowl refuge area of Saxis Wildlife Management Area, the land has been maintained in its natural state, and for several decades, has been the site of public recreation in the form of shore fishing and wildlife watching. This project enhances recreational opportunities on the Eastern Shore of Virginia by providing access proximate to Saxis WMA, and furthers existing VDGIF programs in this region of the Commonwealth. Click here for a PDF map of the Saxis WMA, taken from the VDGIF website.
Hardware River Wildlife Management Area
In 2003, The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia gifted a key 19-acre tract of land along the Hardware River to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Acquisition of this in-holding by the Game Department resulted in making the Hardware River Wildlife Management Area one continuous tract. The Hardware River WMA provides valuable public access to the James River for boating, fishing, hiking, hunting, wildlife viewing, and other outdoor activities. The purchase of this property by WFV was made possible by a generous donation from Dominion. Click here for a PDF map of the Hardware River WMA, taken from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
Charles City County
Game Farm Marsh Wildlife Management Area
In early 2005, The Wildlife Foundation partnered with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries on a key acquisition project in Charles City County. The Blue Wing Tract is a 103-acre parcel adjacent to the 429-acre Game Farm Marsh Wildlife Management Area in New Kent County. The tract was purchased by VDGIF with funding from WFV and a National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant.
There is very little public land in this eastern region of Virginia, and we are hopeful that this project will encourage other landowners in the area to consider conservancy options on their properties. The Blue Wing Tract provides interior access to the Game Farm Marsh WMA for individuals who wish to use the area for waterfowl hunting, fishing, boating, and wildlife watching.
WFV's monetary contribution to this project came from private donations, and provided VDGIF with matching dollars needed to secure federal grant money to offset acquisition costs. We are pleased to partner with DGIF on the long-term protection of this unique wildlife habitat. Click here for a PDF map of the Game Farm WMA, taken from the VDGIF website.
Rapidan Wildlife Management Area
The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia acquired approximately 550 acres of forested habitat in Madison County, previously owned by brothers John and Jack Fray. This key parcel is bound by conservation lands: the Rapidan Wildlife Management Area lies to the north, west, and south, and the Shenandoah National Park is directly to the east. In 2006, the Foundation gifted the property to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, for inclusion in the Rapidan Wildlife Management Area.
The property owners have fulfilled their father's wishes to keep the land in its natural state, and protected from development in perpetuity. WFV worked with the owners to structure a transaction that benefits all parties involved: John and Jack Fray and their families have met their conservation and financial goals; WFV received an unspoiled tract of land in a high-pressure development area; and the citizens of the Commonwealth will be able to hunt, fish, and recreate on an additional 550 acres in Madison County.
Short Hills Wildlife Management Area
In 2009, WFV purchased 2,117 acres in Rockbridge and Botetourt counties, using loan funding from The Conservation Fund (TCF). This acquisition initiative was a public-private partnership between The Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF), the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), TCF, and WFV to permanently conserve a total of 4,234 acres, known as the Short Hills tract.
Short Hills was a privately-owned tract of land spanning both Rockbridge and Botetourt counties, and consists of an approximate 10-mile long ridge line following I-81 from just south of Lexington to Natural Bridge. The owners of Short Hills were interested in selling the land for conservation purposes, and DGIF was interested in acquiring the property to establish a Wildlife Management Area. The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia, The Conservation Fund, and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation partnered to provide interim funding to assist VDGIF with this acquisition.
The property contains diverse habitat for game and non-game species, including black bear, deer, turkey, ruffed grouse, bobcat, fox, beaver, migratory and resident songbirds, and raptors. Water resources include springs and seeps that are the headwaters of Cedar Creek, a native brook trout stream and tributary of the Maury and James rivers. Cedar Creek is also the stream that runs under the historic Natural Bridge located just to the east of Short Hills. Short Hills is situated in the vicinity of other protected lands, and presented the opportunity to protect a large hub area and connecting green corridors to other significant lands. Click here for a PDF map of the Short Hills Wildlife Management Area, taken from the VDGIF website.