Restore the Wild Funds Have Supported the Following Projects
Highland Wildlife Management Area
Native Pollinator Meadow Restoration
At the WMA’s Hupman Valley Tract, DWR restored two degraded old fields, which had formerly been sites of a timber operation, into two native pollinator meadows of 4.5 and 2.5 acres. Staff removed and suppressed invasive species from the field and planted it with native wildflowers and warm-season grasses. This restored meadow will benefit the federally endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, which was documented on both of the fields during pollinator surveys. The project will also benefit other pollinators and grassland-dwelling wildlife.
Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area
Pollinator Habitat Restoration
Washington and Russell Counties
DWR created a 1-acre meadow habitat for pollinators on an area that previously consisted of mowed grass. To restore this meadow, DWR suppressed growth of the undesirable grass, prepped the soil, and planted a diverse mix of native wildflowers. In addition to supporting pollinators, such as monarch butterfly, this restored habitat may also benefit several species of bats and grassland dwelling birds, including these Virginia Species of Greatest Conservation Need: Golden-winged Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, and Bewick’s Wren. The DWR will also install an interpretive sign at the restoration site to educate the public on the benefits of pollinators and native plants.
Big Woods Wildlife Management Area
Pine Savanna Habitat Enhancement
DWR is restoring native pine savanna habitat on 135 acres of pine timberland at the Big Woods Wildlife Management Area. To convert portions of the dense timber stand into the more open woodland of a pine savanna habitat, the logging decks (areas where timber had once been sorted and loaded onto trucks) were reclaimed and planted with a wildflower seed mix. DWR opened up the overgrown forest understory in these logging decks utilizing selective herbicide treatments, a necessity for the habitually wet area, which had made it difficult to manage with prescribed fire. After opening the understory, DWR planted the fire lines and logging decks with native wildflowers. This enhanced habitat will benefit the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker, which depends on pine savanna habitat; as well as Northern Bobwhite; Bachman’s Sparrow; southeastern fox squirrels; and pollinating insects.
This project is one component of a larger, long-term effort at the WMA and the adjacent Piney Grove Preserve, which is owned by The Nature Conservancy, to restore pine savanna on a contiguous 10,000 acre area. Together, this habitat complex harbors the only population of Red-cockaded Woodpecker in Virginia and represents the northern limit of their range, making these restoration efforts highly significant for their recovery.
Princess Anne Wildlife Management Area
Return to Early Successional Habitat
At the WMA’s Whitehurst Tract, the DWR is converting an 8-acre area, which was formerly managed as a seasonal wetland impoundment, into a native grassland habitat (also referred to as early successional habitat) by clearing brush and trees, leveling out the old dikes, and planting the area with a native wildflower seed mix that is beneficial to pollinators. This project will not only diversify the habitat complex at Princess Anne WMA, which did not previously include grassland, but it will also provide a habitat type otherwise unavailable in the surrounding agricultural area. Monarch butterfly and a diversity of other pollinators will benefit from this project as well as numerous grassland birds listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Virginia’s Wildlife Action Plan, including Loggerhead Shrike, Eastern Meadowlark, Field Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat, Eastern Towhee, and Northern Bobwhite.
To Be Completed: 2022
Vic Thomas Fish Hatchery
Pollinator Habitat Project
DWR is converting 3 acres of mowed, non-native grass into a wildflower meadow for pollinators. Staff suppressed the growth of the undesirable grass using herbicide, prepared the soil by planting crops, and then planted the project areas with a pollinator seed mix and wildlife-supporting native shrubs. This project nearly doubled the size of a previous similar restoration project at the hatchery, increasing the property’s total pollinator habitat to 6 acres. Pollinator and grassland habitats are rare along the Staunton River, so this project helps diversify the available habitat across the larger landscape, which is otherwise primarily agricultural. This project will benefit a wide diversity of pollinating insects.
To Be Completed: 2022
G.R. Thompson Wildlife Management Area
Davenport Pollinator Field Restoration
Clarke and Fauquier Counties
At the Davenport Tract of the Thompson WMA, the DWR is converting 15 acres of a formerly farmed field overtaken by non-native, invasive plants back into its historic state of a wildflower meadow, rich in native plant diversity. Staff are suppressing and removing the invasive vegetation with a helicopter aerial treatment and prescribed fire. The area will then be planted with a native seed mix beneficial to pollinators. This restoration project will benefit multiple pollinator species including the Monarch butterfly and the federally endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, documented near the site in 2014. Additional wildlife to benefit include small mammals and several birds listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need within Virginia’s Wildlife Action Plan, such as Loggerhead Shrike, Cerulean Warbler, Black-billed Cuckoo, Kentucky Warbler, and Northern Bobwhite. The large flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflora), which grows throughout the WMA, will also benefit from this restoration project because it specifically requires bumble bees for their pollination and reproduction.
To Be Completed: 2022