Match Donation Starts Preserve in Caroline County, Central Virginia
In December 2009 Director Phil Sheridan donated his house and property to Meadowview to endow the operations side of the non-profit and launch the first preserve in Caroline County, Virginia. Phil had allowed the non-profit to use this property, free of charge, to get the non-profit started and the time had finally come to hand the property over to Meadowview so it owned a “brick and mortar” headquarters.
The appraised value of the house and property is $62,000. Meadowview is seeking match dona-tions to acquire an adjoining 3 acres with sphagnum bog (appraised value 20K), to establish the reserve account for the Joseph Pines Preserve (20K), and to provide money for repairs and improvements to the research station (22K). The house contains two bedrooms for intern or volunteer lodging, bathroom, of-fice, conference area, break room, and kitchen. The facility includes a complete botanical and research library, dissecting microscope, and is completely furnished. The well and plumbing system have been re-furbished to provide clean potable water. Cooling is provided by room air conditioners while the wood furnace heating system provides hot water for radiators and domestic use. A backup propane forced air heating system is also in place. Repair work is needed on the exterior siding of the Research Station and the old tin roof needs repainting or eventual replacement with a solar cell/metal roof. Interns, volunteers, and international visiting scientists have stayed at Meadowview house and we expect this trend to increase. Meadowview grounds include an extensive plant propagation bed system, two stocked tool sheds, and fully functional, climate controlled greenhouse.
A fifteen foot fee simple right-of-way connects Meadowview to the 3 acre parcel we need to ac-quire. The tract is characterized by mature loblolly pine and a hardwood understory on a sandy loam soil. A spring-fed sphagnum bog meanders through the property. Acquisition of this property provides an op-portunity for volunteers to be involved in local restoration work. Meadowview is on the Virginia Birding Trail and the addition of 3 acres would allow us to provide a path through the woods for bird watchers, po-tentially increasing support for the organization.
One of the tracts further back in the woods contains the northern most population of purple pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea, in Virginia. The bog is a rare gravel seepage bog and contained the state threatened New Jersey Rush, Juncus caesariensis. We expect that if we can acquire this bog and restore the site additional rare flora and fauna will be discovered. The pitcher plant population declined from 10 plants in 1990 to 4 plants in 2007. Meadowview intervened in 2007, with landowner permission, to clear a portion of the bog and prevent the extinction of these valuable pitcher plants. Even with that effort two small plants were lost to rot from ongoing succession. In 2009, one of the plants sent up a bloom which was bagged and hand-pollinated. One seed capsule was obtained and this material will be propagated and planted on the 3 acre sphagnum bog (if we can acquire the property) ensuring the preservation of the geno-type of the northern most pitcher plant population in Virginia.
Our long-term goal is to secure more extensive protection of the Meadow Creek watershed. The Bass tract (raw land) has been on the market for some time and the Hall tract (house and land) may become available. As we were writing this newsletter, the Gatewood tract of 13.93 acres came on the market for $110,000. The Gatewood tract is a critical piece of property since headwater springs feeding sphagnum bogs start on this land (the adjoining Latka properties are currently not for sale but may be in the future). The Moon tract includes a large restored colonial house, numerous work sheds, stage coach house, agricul-tural fields, and beautiful hardwood forest. The Moon house could serve as an excellent headquarters com-plete with pitcher plant art museum, botanical garden, heirloom crop cultivation on existing agricultural land, and repair shop. We have been curating a series of original and reproduction pitcher plant art. We also have the 21 x 52 foot glass/aluminum Janco greenhouse from historic Berclair Plantation in Freder-icksburg, VA in storage waiting for a suitable place to rebuild. We estimate the purchase of the Moon, Bass, Hall, and Gatewood properties will cost around $1,000,000. This is a stretch goal but we are going to start with baby steps by purchasing our first 3 acre preserve in Caroline County at $20,000. We’ve de-fined the vision now let’s turn it into reality! Please let interested people know about this important pre-serve plan in Central Virginia and what it can do for the preservation of the pitcher plants, their ecosystem, watershed protection, and public enjoyment.