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State grant to secure addition for The Cedars in Lee

Southwest Virginia Bureau • Sep 23, 2016 at 3:43 PM

RICHMOND — An area in Lee County known as The Cedars will receive a share of the latest state land conservation grants announced Thursday by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will administer the $317,711 grant to The Cedars Natural Area preserve to purchase about 150 acres as an addition to the preserve.

The Cedars area is a focal area for the agency due to the extraordinary biodiversity significance of the region's natural heritage resources. The 150-acre parcel is the largest remaining unprotected tract identified as a conservation priority. It includes 6,170 feet of frontage on the Powell River, itself harboring some of the most significant freshwater diversity in North America.

Recent DCR surveys confirm the property supports several rare plant species, natural communities and cave and karst features. Those assets are at risk from impending logging and potentially expanded agricultural uses.

McAuliffe said The Cedars grant is one of 23 Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grants totaling $6.42 million to support projects across the state to help preserve a total 7,037 acres of at-risk land from development.

"The projects selected protect Virginia's biodiversity, history and way of life while enhancing public access to our natural resources," the governor said. "We will continue to support innovative land conservation efforts to ensure that Virginia's green space remains healthy and vibrant for future generations."

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward said the land conversation fund "is critical to conservation projects across the commonwealth. These grants will help preserve Virginia's special places for generations to come."

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