The ES of Virginia Master Naturalists are pleased to announce that the Cape Charles Natural Preserve (NAP) is open once again. The wheel-chair accessible boardwalk meandering through the maritime forest and dune scrub habitat to the Chesapeake Bay has been repaired and overhanging vegetation has been pruned. The overlook at the Chesapeake Bay has been re-configured to preserve the dune edge and prevent further erosion of the dunes.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) acquired a new addition, east of the original NAP, which sports a second boardwalk over a fresh water wetland and a short path to a small, open meadow-like area, welcoming to pollinators.
Dot Field, Natural Area Research Coordinator, Eastern Shore Region Steward and Richard Ayers, Coastal Operations Steward of the DCR organized several crews of Master Naturalists to remove a number of fallen trees, repair, replace missing and damaged boards on the boardwalk as well as to prune over- grown vegetation.
Even as they exercised their carpentry and pruning skills, Master Naturalists practiced safety against COVID-19—wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
The NAP provides a peacful area for leisurely hiking and oberving nature, both plants and wildlife. The NAP is full of birds all year— in fall migratory songbirds stop to feed in the woods, in winter gannets, loons and scoters are seen out in the Bay, and in spring and summer pine warblers, wrens and chickadees among other native birds fill the woods. There is no access to the beach as it is home to the federally protected northeastern beach tiger beetle.