This past Saturday, preserve manager Joe Villari and I were thrilled to welcome fourteen participants to the north section for a guided hike. While we spent the afternoon enjoying the unique cultural and natural features, I was struck with gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of this land’s ongoing stewardship, specifically as a natural area preserve.
The designation as a natural area preserve is the highest possible form of land protection in the state of Virginia, meaning the Preserve and all its special resources are protected to the fullest extent of the law. Unlike parks, preserves like BRMNAP have a responsibility to uphold the land’s conservation integrity first, over and above any form of recreation. That’s why we have additional rules like no dogs or bikes, and why we keep large sections of the preserve private except for research and educational purposes. But I am grateful to be part of a team that recognizes that BRMNAP is a community resource, and therefore must also be shared wherever possible.
It can be a difficult balance to strike, but in addition to our wonderful 6+ miles of publicly accessible trails on the south section, we are thrilled to be able to facilitate access to the Preserve’s north section and Jackson Hollow biodiversity hotspot. Keep an eye on our facebook, Instagram, and meetup pages for information on future guided hikes to these tightly managed sections. We are also working on creating brand new trails in the south section to highlight features not currently accessible without a staff guide. That is why we are so thankful for the community’s patience and passion as we work to share as much of this protected land as possible!