The Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) has helped to preserve a wildlife-rich cypress swamp in Isle of Wight County, thanks to a conservation easement recorded late last week. It is the first easement in Isle of Wight County for VOF, which now protects land in all but four Virginia counties.
The 38-acre easement protects a section of Great Swamp known as the Millpond tract, which is owned by the county. At one time the swamp had been dammed, forming Courthouse Millpond, named for its proximity to the county courthouse. The dam eventually blew out and drained the pond, leaving behind a mature cypress swamp. The swamp flows into Burnt Mills Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to the City of Norfolk and drains into the Nansemond River.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has surveyed the property and found it to be rich with amphibians, reptiles, fish, and birds — many of them identified as “Species of Greatest Conservation Concern.”
The easement includes development restrictions that will help to keep the water clean and the habitat intact.
Phillip A. Bradshaw, Chairman of the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors, states “This property outlines our courthouse complex and it provides an excellent opportunity for us to take another step forward in protecting and preserving our environment for future generations. We hope that we will be able to offer opportunities in the near future for the public to enjoy this natural amenity, perhaps with a walking trail and a gazebo.”
“The public benefits of this easement — clean drinking water, pristine habitat, recreational and educational opportunities — are tremendous,” said VOF Chairman Hank Hartz of Goochland. “It’s a great example of how local governments can protect those values that define their community’s quality of life.”