MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Marine Corps Base Quantico, in a partnership with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Prince William Conservation Alliance, continues to cooperatively enhance the environmental quality off base.
“The Merrimac Farm in Prince William County is a great example of how the Marine Corps Base Quantico and the surrounding communities have taken advantage of state and federal programs and funding to cooperatively enhance the environmental quality outside of the base, while at the same time protecting the military mission inside the fence line,” said Nathan Stokes, associate counsel, Land Use and Environment, Quantico Area Counsel's Office.
In 2008 the base, using Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative funds, obtained a restrictive conservation easement to ensure that Merrimac Farm would not be subject to future incompatible development that might hamper training capabilities on base, he explained.
Merrimac Farm, a more than 300-acre wildlife management area in Prince William County, features diverse wildlife habitats: wetlands, hardwood forest and upland meadows. It has one of the largest colonies of Virginia Bluebells in northern Virginia. They carpet the floodplain along nearly one mile of Cedar Run and bloom for only a few weeks each April.
The wildlife conservation area is adjacent to Camp Upshur, which is part of the 59,000-acre Marine Corps Base Quantico.
“The communities (surrounding Quantico) gained recreational and educational opportunities to share some of Virginia’s beauty with the public, as well as new protections on critical water resources,” said Stokes.
Protecting the wetlands along Cedar Run will also promote better water quality for northern Virginia, according to www.pwconserve.org/merrimacfarm/index.htm. Cedar Run is a tributary to the Occoquan Reservoir which provides drinking water to more than 1.2 million people who reside in Prince William, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Stafford counties.
“The Marine Corps obtained a useful buffer between the base and incompatible development that might otherwise constrict Marines’ ability to conduct live-fire training and air operations due to undesirable noise impacts,” said Stokes.
“In the end, all parties worked together to both enhance ecological value and beauty for Virginians to visit, and maintain a national defense position that remains strong with Marines training as they need to face the next threat to our country,” said Stokes.