Overview of JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary
A Brief History
Directly to the west of Lucketts, Virginia sits an 87-acre parcel of land with forests and meadows. It’s a fairly nondescript plot of land at first glance, but it has a rich history, and an abundance of unique wildlife. Once farmed for agricultural purposes, this plot of land has more recently been sought by developers. Previous development plans have included putting up to 70 homes and a water treatment facility on the parcel. However, local residents have successfully fought to preserve the landscape over the years.
When the parcel came up for sale in 2017, Lucketts resident and Ruritans member Ludlow Clark brought it to the attention of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. We enlisted the help of biologists, other nonprofits, and volunteers to study the property. Biologists from the Virginia Department of Conservation’s Natural Heritage program determined the property was a globally rare wetland due to the vernal pools, mature forest, unique geologic setting, rare amphibians, and other elements it harbors.
With the persistence of the Lucketts Ruritans, and connections made by the Piedmont Environmental Council, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy was able to convince local entrepreneur Chuck Kuhn to purchase the property with the intention to resell it to Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy at a conserved value once it had been placed into conservation easement. The conservation easement was filed in 2019 to forever protect JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary from development, and the property was purchased from JK Moving Services on March 10, 2020 with support from The Nature Conservancy, Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, and individual donors.
A Virtual Visit
To protect the environmentally sensitive habitat and rare species, JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary is not open for general public access. Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy does lead walks and hold volunteer events at the Sanctuary to provide access to registered participants. You may also want to take a virtual tour:
One of the first projects on the property was a tree planting project in 2019 in conjunction with the Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District to connect an exposed vernal pool to the mature forest nearby. Other habitat restoration projects are in the works and monitoring surveys have begun. Read: What’s Next for JK Black Oak? and track our progress with periodic updates.
A management plan has been put in place for the property, which includes the following priorities:
- Creation of wetlands to enhance critical habitat for obligate vernal pool and wetlands species in Loudoun County. This priority is primarily managed and executed by The Nature Conservancy.
- Protection of existing vernal pools at JK Black Oak
- Protecting and enhancing the biodiversity at JK Black Oak
- Providing a unique setting for education about conservation and the study of wildlife in Loudoun County
- DISCOVER: Education
- EXPLORE: Citizen Science
- RESTORE: Habitat Conservation
- PROTECT: Conservation Advocacy
- PRESERVE: JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary
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