Portion of Bull Run Mountains to be closed for recovery and restoration

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The High Point cliff area on the Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve will be closed for an indefinite period of recovery and restoration starting January 15, 2015. The cliff area at High Point is a particularly fragile and significant natural community known as a Pine-Oak / Heath Woodland. Both the vegetation and the geological formation that supports it represent important natural resources in Virginia that have been damaged by trampling. Sensitive species such as the eastern timber rattlesnake and the Table Mountain pine have been disturbed by high numbers of visitors. Six miles of public access trails in the preserve will remain open for hiking.

The cliff area is part of the 2,500-acre preserve, but is privately owned. Access is managed under a license agreement that enables the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) to provide natural resource protection for the habitat while permitting the public to visit the cliffs. The closure will be implemented by VOF in accordance with a recovery plan designed in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Natural Heritage, whose staff will monitor the effects of closure on the damaged habitat.

The duration of the closure will depend on the rate of recovery and the public’s adherence to current and future use guidelines. Visitors to the preserve must respect the closure of the High Point cliff area. At the time of closure, the Bull Run Ridge Trail beyond its juncture with Fern Hollow Trail and the Hickory Trail beyond its juncture with Quarry Trail will be closed.

Ninety percent of the preserve is owned by VOF. The properties were officially dedicated as a State Natural Area Preserve in 2002 in recognition of their significant natural resources. The preserve straddles the border of Fauquier and Prince William counties.

Questions about the High Point project may be directed to Gary Fleming, vegetation ecologist with DCR, Gary.fleming@dcr.virginia.gov (804) 786-9122. For other questions and further information about Bull Run Mountains management, contact Amanda Scheps at (540) 347-7727 x227 or ascheps@vofonline.org.

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