Riparian Protection along Rattlesnake Creek
The Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan released in 2021 reinforced the urgent need to protect land for flood resiliency across Virginia’s Capital Region. In December 2021, Richmond resident Victor Bucklew worked with Capital Region Land Conservancy to do just that. CRLC recorded a conservation easement on 1.33 acres of undeveloped property along East Weyburn Road and Rattlesnake Creek in South Richmond. Under the easement, the property will remain forested so that it continues to act as a natural area for habitat and filtration of stormwater.
The property falls within the Floodplain & Flooding Resiliency category of ConserveVirginia v3.0. ConserveVirginia is a scientific model developed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to identify priority conservation areas that account for the top 10 percent of land in Virginia to be protected. Protecting floodplains provides a buffer against fast moving flood water, absorbs and stores excess runoff, and filters pollutants from our water resources. As a result, protected floodplains reduce flood damage and cleanup costs and helps the state be more resilient to its most common and costly disaster.
The easement requires a 100-foot riparian buffer along Rattlesnake Creek, a tributary to the James River. Such green infrastructure will help to improve water quality in the local watershed and contribute to the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Heavily wooded with pine, cedar, and oak, this property provides climate-resilient habitat for species such as owls, herons, migratory birds, deer, and foxes. The Bucklew property also fosters an important forested freshwater wetland, that includes remnant vegetated populations of Lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus), Royal Fern (Osmunda spectabilis), Virginia Chain Fern (Anchistea virginica), Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis), and Netted Chain Fern (Lorinseria areolate). Stewardship requirements outlined in the easement and other agreements will help maintain native plants for local wildlife habitat and begin to restore areas where invasive species have established.