CAPE CHARLES, Va. - Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve, located on the Eastern Shore, will close to the public for repairs on July 29 at 8 p.m.
The access point at 301 Patrick Henry Avenue in Cape Charles, the only authorized access point to the preserve, will be closed through at least October 1. The closure also includes the boardwalk leading to a viewing platform that overlooks a low bluff at the Chesapeake Bay shoreline.
Because of increased visitation to the preserve, including unauthorized access through coastal maritime forest, across eroding dunes and on the shore where a federally endangered beetle species lives, parts of the shore and boardwalk have become damaged.
Repairs are needed if the preserve is to reopen for public use.
“Taking a walk on the boardwalk at Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve has long provided visitors and residents of Cape Charles with the opportunity to bird watch, bay-gaze and otherwise immerse themselves in a quiet natural setting,” said Dot Field, Eastern Shore steward for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Natural Heritage division. “DCR, with the assistance of the local Master Naturalist chapter, has always been pleased to be able to safely provide this experience.
“Unfortunately, however, the urge to get outside during the pandemic has led to a steadily increasing level of visitation that is impacting the stability of the boardwalk and the sensitive natural communities it traverses. Visitors exploring areas beyond the boardwalk have added to management concerns. Temporary closure will allow repairs to be made to the compromised Chesapeake Bay overlook and will allow some recovery of the impacted natural communities.”
While the preserve is closed, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Natural Heritage staff will repair and modify the boardwalk so that the public can access the preserve safely, without further exacerbating shoreline erosion, and without negative impacts to the natural heritage resources protected there.