Much of Catlett Islands acquired as natural preserve

by Bill Nachman - Posted on Jun 13, 2012 - 02:33 PM

In an effort to protect the flora and fauna of the Catlett Islands in the York River, the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia has acquired much of the property there.

Using funds received from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, CBNERRVA acquired the property recently, said William Reay, director of the Bay Reserve, which has its office on the Virginia Institute of Marine Science campus at Gloucester Point.

Thanks to the 450 acres purchased recently from Timberneck Development, Reay said the reserve now owns about 500 acres of Catlett Islands. Approximately 50 acres were acquired about 10 years ago.

Eventually, Reay said, the reserve would also like to acquire approximately 60 acres being held on Catlett by a Virginia Beach resident.

By purchasing a large chunk of Catlett, the reserve can protect the uninhabited islands while providing a good spot for all types of marine and climate studies, Reay said. For example, researchers often go to Catlett, located about five miles upriver from the VIMS campus, to conduct water quality studies, diamondback terrapin research, shoreline erosion testing and other research.

A reserve report indicated that marshes in the Chesapeake Bay region play a very important role in maintaining and improving water quality by "trapping sediment from upland runoff and from the water column."