The ICNL Reserves

South Hill Natural Area West

Adjacent to the west side of the main campus across Route 96B, the 67 acres of South Hill Natural Area West (also known as the B-Plots) have come under management recently for teaching, research, and recreation.  This reserve has mixed-composition forests and fields in varying stages of succession.  With the exception of some historical hedge rows and riparian corridors, the forests of this reserve are young relative to other parts of South Hill. This reserve contains regularly flowing streams in small ravines, one of which is lined with unusual (and yet unidentified) hybrid ash trees (Fraxinus spp.).  At the center of the reserve, at a junction of stone walls and hedge rows, is a historical farm site with nut- and fruit-bearing trees, such as hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), black walnut (Juglans nigra), and black cherry (Prunus serotina).

Regenerative use is the guiding management concept, which involves managing successional re-growth, sustainable harvest of non-timber forest products, invasive exotic plant control, and selective forest thinning.  A repeat photography project is in place to monitor regeneration over the long term.  Meanwhile, a trail built in 2011-2012 facilitates access and concentrates impacts.