Key Habitat Areas

Management practices and plantings can improve a property by helping to diversify the vegetation present. However, just as important is the maintenance of unique or key areas which already exist on many parcels of land. Such key habitat areas may or may not be identified in the plan because of the limited knowledge of the property by the resource managers. As landowners, you should be aware of some examples of such areas so that you will know what to look for and protect on your property. Examples are as follows:

Old house sites - These areas usually contain a wide variety of plant life including fruit trees, grape arbors, and shrubs and are heavily utilized by wildlife.

Spring seeps - These areas are particularly important in the mountains. They provide valuable feeding areas during the winter when the countryside is frozen or covered by snow. These areas are heavily utilized, especially by wild turkey.

Natural mineral licks - Though uncommon, these areas are heavily used by deer and therefore should be left undisturbed.

Old orchards - These areas, common in the Valley, provide a unique habitat and are heavily used by a variety of wildlife.

Savannas - These areas are predominantly hardwood stands with a moderate to sparse understory of grasses that provide excellent brood range for many birds such as turkey and grouse. The majority of these sites are, in fact, old farm lands which have been fallow for many years.

Unique timber stands - What makes a particular stand unique depends on what is common and what is scarce. For example, a small stand of white oak, pine, spruce or old-growth timber may be unique depending on its relative abundance. More than likely, these would be identified by the forester working on the plan.

Rock outcroppings and caves - These areas often provide important habitats for reptiles, amphibians, and many species of bats.

SMZ - Forested areas in stream-side management zones (SMZ) should be managed to protect water quality and provide cover for wildlife. Key habitat areas often require little or no maintenance to preserve their integrity for the future. If you identify a key habitat area and are unsure what the best course of action is to maintain it, you can consult with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries personnel who worked on your plan originally.