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Chestnut Ridge Natural Area Preserve grows

By WILLIAM PANE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation recently purchased several hundred acres of mountainous forestland, which are to be utilized as the Chestnut Ridge Natural Area Preserve.

Chestnut Ridge is a mountain bordered by Wolf Creek to the south and Dry Branch creek to the north, which flows into the little hamlet of Rocky Gap on the West Virginia border. The vast majority of this acreage lies in far west Giles county, but some of this preserve extends into Bland County.

The Chestnut Ridge Natural Area Preserve will be managed with the goal of protecting the native flora and fauna of this large stretch of unbroken forest, which includes many old growth trees.

The old growth forest “communities” in the Chestnut Ridge Natural Preserve are largely comprised of Northern Red Oak and Chestnut Oak trees but there are also examples of Cucumber Magnolia and American Basswood trees.

Natural Heritage ecologists have confirmed that some of these trees are between 300 and 400 years old.

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