Habitat Restoration on the Eastern Virginia Rivers National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Howard+Revis acknowledges that we live and work on Native American lands. Our region is home to the Piscataway/Nacotchtank (Anacostan) peoples. The Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge is on Rappahannock ancestral land. The US Fish and Wildlife Service works with the Rappahannock Tribe to help preserve their lands for future generations.


To celebrate the arrival of fall, we’re sharing some of our recently-acquired local nature knowledge, learned while working with the Eastern Virginia Rivers National Wildlife Refuge Complex (part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service). Earlier this year, we created informational waysides for one of the newly-managed areas: the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The Rappahannock River Valley NWR currently consists of 9,030 acres along the Rappahannock River in Virginia, named for the Rappahannock Tribe. The USFWS works in concert with the Rappahannock Tribe and dozens of other community partners to conserve and restore various habitats within the refuge.


Image of Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge


One particular habitat that the Rappahannock NWR manages, called a riparian forest, helps keep the river clean. Riparian forests create buffer zones between upland forests and streams that feed into the river. As rain and runoff flow from the upland areas, they pass through the riparian forest. The roots of riparian forest plants are uniquely suited to capture and filter toxic runoff, sediment, and pollutants that would otherwise flow into the river.


Image of riparian forest by IvyLyn Munsey


Diagram of riparian forest


These riparian forests have made Cat Point Creek one of the most pristine bodies of water in the Northern Neck of Virginia, and it’s a local favorite spot for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. This Cat Point Creek Water Trail map shows a suggested route for exploration around the area:

Map provided by Northern Neck Tourism Commission


You can help the Rappahannock River Valley NWR with their work through various volunteer events that they host, cleaning up improperly discarded fishing line, removing trash from alongside the roads leading to the refuge, and learning about the conservation efforts of the USFWS. Check their website for updates as they cultivate new trails within the Cat Point Creek and Fones Cliffs units, and look out for an official new unit soon!

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