Field Day at Zuni Pine Barrens

by VDOF Longleaf Pine/SPB Coordinator Jim Schroering

Several VDOF staff participated in a field tour of the Zuni Pine Barrens in Isle of Wight County earlier this month. The Zuni Pine Barrens is a cooperative conservation project made up of the Blackwater Ecological Preserve (Old Dominion University) and the Antioch Pines Natural Area Preserve (Department of Conservation and Recreation).

ODU Professor of Botany and Zuni Pines Preserve Manager Dr. Lytton Musselman and Dr. Cecil Frost, retired plant ecologist, director of rare species at the NC Natural Heritage Program and private consultant for fire ecology, were instrumental in establishing the Zuni Pine Barrens over 40 years ago.

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Dr. Musselman (left) and Dr. Frost (right)

They, along with graduate students from ODU and staff from DCR’s Natural Heritage Program, led tours and discussions about rare and endangered species found on the property, current prescribed fire regimes and efforts to document and re-establish native longleaf pine on the preserve. More than 45 individuals participated in the field day.

Highlights of the tour included finding a rare archaeological site known as a ‘tarkel.”

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Dr. Musselman discusses the tarkel

Participants also looked at a crude site used to extract naval stores (pitch, turpentine, tar) from the burning of longleaf in covered pits, and a longleaf pine stump estimated to be over 350 years old.

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