What is a Natural Area Preserve?
Established in 1989, Virginia's Natural Area Preserve System protects some of the best examples of natural communities and rare plant and animal habitats in Virginia. The first preserve was dedicated to the system in 1990. Bull Run Mountains was added as the 34th preserve in 2002. All state natural area preserves are closely monitored and managed to ensure their resources are protected and perpetuated for the benefit of all of us today, as well as for future generations. Most of the preserves are owned and managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, while some are owned by local governments, universities, private citizens, and as is the case here at Bull Run Mountains, by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.
What is being preserved?
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia and have been called the "backdrop of our nation's capital." An outlying mountain range located in the Piedmont, the Bull Run Mountains reach a maximum elevation of 1377 feet. On its ridges, disjunct populations of species more common in the Appalachian Mountains and the coastal plain are represented. The Bull Run Mountains contain diverse forest and woodland communities, some of which are rare in the Virginia piedmont, including Pine-Oak/Heath
Woodland and Piedmont/Mountain Acidic Cliff communities that occupy the cliffs and adjacent habitats at High Point. Several rare animal species, including the Barrens Tiger Beetle and the Elegant Prominent Moth, have been documented in the Bull Run Mountains. The headwaters to Goose Creek and the Occoquan River which contribute to the water supply of Northern Virginia are located within the Preserve.
The imposing Chapman's Mill, owned and operated by Turn the Mill Around Campaign, is on the property adjacent to the Preserve. Constructed in 1742, the mill for two centuries served as a major economic driver for the region. It was witness to five wars and played a strategic role in 1862's skirmish at Thoroughfare Gap. On the Preserve, visitors can see graveyards, homesites, and other cultural artifacts, including the remains of the John Chapman home, an earlier mill and ice house
How was the Preserve acquired?
Conservation-minded neighbors have long recognized the value of the mountain's rich ecological and cultural resources and the importance of creating a perpetual greenbelt around the nation's capitol. In 1965, area residents began to purchase property on the mountain for conservation. Working together with private funding, neighbors acquired over 2000 acres on and near the mountain. IN 1979, this group of philanthropists partnered with the Virginia
Outdoors Foundation (VOF) to receive the assembled parcels and continue the mission of conserving the mountain. As of 2015, VOF owns and manages 2300 acres and holds conservation easements on another 4000 acres within the mountain conservation area. Efforts to purchase and conserve additional acres are ongoing.
Virginia Outdoors Foundation
Virginia Outdoors Foundation is Virginia's leader in land conservation, protecting more than 750,000 acres across the Commonwealth.
VOF was created by the General Assembly in 1966. It was established in the Code of Virginia under § 10.1-1800, which states: "Virginia Outdoors Foundation is established to promote the preservation of open space lands and to encourage private gifts of money, security, land or other property to preserve the natural, scenic, historic, scientific, open space and recreational areas of the Commonwealth."
The creation of VOF was among the recommendations of the 1964 Virginia Outdoor Recreation Study Commission, which also suggested the creation of a Historic Landmarks Commission, a system of scenic byways, and an enlarged state park system. As of 2015, VOF's portfolio of conservation easements and public reserves represents an area four times larger than Shenandoah National Park and equal to the size of Rhode Island.
Virginia Outdoors Foundation
photos taken on the preserve by Janis Stone
Ebony Jewelwing Dragonfly
Lady's Slipper Orchid
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Eastern Fence Lizard