VOF Reserves

Kohls Island Reserve

Northumberland County

A wildlife sanctuary at the mouth of the Potomac River.

Kohls Island is an island of approximately 80 acres located at the mouths of the Potomac and Little Wicomico Rivers in the Fairfield District of Northumberland County. The property is composed of coastal beach, salt march, several salt ponds, and mixed pine and hardwood forest. The island’s northeastern boundary is the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to providing habitat for the Northeastern tiger Beetle and other rare species, Kohls Island (also known as Smith Point) contains a coastal sand dune system. There are only a few of these systems left on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

The habitats on Kohls Island support numerous species of birds and mammals. 200 species of birds live in the area, including the rare least tern (Sterna antillarum) and the piping plover (Charadrius melodus). River otters (Lontra Canadensis) and gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) are two mammals that are common in the habitats of Kohls Island.

Kohls Island is home to several rare species. The island contains seabeach knotweed (Polygonum glaucum). This waxy blue annual plant is ranked between critically imperiled and imperiled in Virginia as there are fewer than 20 known populations in Virginia. The northern diamond-backed terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin terrapin), a Federal Species of Concern, is found on the island. The northeastern beach tiger beetle (Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis) is perhaps the species of greatest concern on Kohls Island as this sub-species of tiger beetle was federally listed as a threatened species and reclassified as endangered in 2009.

There are only three other conservation sites within Northumberland County, all of them Natural Area Preserves. Two of the preserves, Hughlett Point and Dameron Marsh, are on the Bay and share many features in common with Kohls Island.

Vera Kohls named the Virginia Outdoors Foundation as the recipient of her property at the mouth of the Potomac River in her will dated July 6, 1976. VOF received the property from the Kohls estate in 1977.

Vera Kohls’ wishes were to preserve the property and the wildlife habitat in its natural state. She did not want the island to be developed, farmed, timbered, or “improved.” However, her desire was for the property to be able to be enjoyed or available to conservation and charitable groups for educational or scientific purposes.

This reserve is not open to the public except by written permission from VOF. Please contact us if you would like to arrange a visit for educational, research, or scientific purposes.

VOF owns a four-acre strip from the mainland that historically provided access to the island. Currently this strip is under water and the only access to the island is by boat or by permission of a neighbor to the north.

This reserve is not open to the public except by written permission from VOF. Please contact us if you would like to arrange a visit for educational, research, or scientific purposes.

If you would like visit this reserve for educational, research, or scientific purposes, please contact Leslie Grayson at (703) 850-3924.

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