Environmental and Cultural Stewardship

The entire 470-acre Claytor Nature Study Center has been placed under a conservation easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF).

This easement permanently protects the land from development and requires the use of Best Management Practices when managing forest and other natural resources on the property.

Warm-Season Grasses

The Claytor Nature Study Center works collaboratively with the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the Virginia Cooperative Extension to manage approximately 150 acres of former croplands as native warm-season grasses.

Native warm-season grasses enhance forage primarily for bird species and other wildlife. Prescribed burning techniques are essential to the maintenance of warm-season grasses.

Riparian and Wetland Habitats

Through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an 18-acre section of land adjacent to the Big Otter River has been converted into a conserved riparian habitat under the agency’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Another 50 acres of lowland area, that had formerly been used as cropland, has been restored to its native wetland habitat under the agency’s Wetland Reserve Program (WRP). As part of this process a few thousand trees have been planted to facilitate restoration.

The College is an active member of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation‘s “Adopt-A-Stream” program. The College has taken responsibility for periodic clean-up of the one-mile section of the Big Otter River that runs through the Claytor Nature Study Center.

Measures are being taken to control noxious exotic plant species such as kudzu, knotweed, and Rosa multiflora. Each of these invasives can be a serious impediment to growth of native vegetation.

Buildings that Preserve Natural Resources and Cultural History

The Education & Research Center has been outfitted with an energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling system that will considerably reduce reliance on electricity and gas, conserving our natural resources.

The Cloverlea farmhouse, cemetery, and several other historic structures located on the property will be preserved and documented as part of an on-going study of the cultural history of the area. Studies will be conducted by various faculty in conjunction with the College’s Center for the History and Culture of Central Virginia.