The Radford Army Ammunition Plant in western Virginia contains exceptionally high-quality grassland and shrubland habitat. These open areas are sustained through a mowing program at the plant. Radford is located in the mountains of southwest Virginia in Pulaski and Montgomery Counties in what is known as the New River Valley. The installation consists of two noncontiguous areas of which the New River Unit (2,821 acres) is included in this IBA. This unit is located just southeast of Dublin, Virginia. The area surrounding the New River Unit is primarily agricultural and rural residential in nature.

{link:For a fact sheet on this IBA, including a map, click here|http://www.audubon.org/bird/iba/virginia/Documents/Radford Army Ammunition Plant.pdf}

Ornithological Summary

The Radford Army Ammunition Plant supports one of the last remaining populations of the VA Threatened Henslow's Sparrow in the state. Up to 15 individuals have been detected on recent surveys. The plant also supports at least one pair of Loggerhead Shrikes each year, a species that has been declining at a rate of 10% each year in Virginia. The large amount of grassland and shrubland habitat also makes this a good site for the watchlisted Prairie Warbler as well as the at-risk Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Meadowlark, Northern Harrier, Grasshopper Sparrow, and Field Sparrow. A small Brown-headed Nuthatch population uses the smaller lots of planted pine on the site. This is the northern-most extension of their range in this part of the state.

Conservation Issues

The primary threat to the grassland bird community on the Radford Army Ammunitions Plant IBA is the abandonment of mowing on the site due to budget cuts. Periodic mowing is necessary to maintain the grasslands at a stage that is suitable for nesting and aids in controlling invasive species. Although the area surrounding the RAAP is primarily rural and undeveloped, the intensification of agriculture may reduce buffer habitat and isolate the plant from other natural habitats, preventing dispersal. Some smaller areas of the site that were previously open habitat have been converted to pine plantations, reducing habitat for grassland species.

Ownership

The Radford Army Ammunition Plant is a government owned and contractor operated millitary installation.

Habitat

The majority of the site lies in grassland habitats that are mowed or grazed infrequently to keep woody plants in check. Three types of grassland habitat exist on the site - old field, meadow, and cultivated field. The old field habitats are dominated by native warm season species with a variety of other grasses, sedges and herbs mixed in. These areas are dominated by little bluestem and broomsedge. Meadows are mowed regularly and have often been planted in non-native forage grasses for haying. Cool-season grasses dominate these areas but may be mixed in with native species characteristic of old fields. Cultivated fields have often been plowed or seeded with various cover crops and are primarily dominated by weedy species.

Land Use

The Radford Army Ammunition Plant is a manufacturing and storage space facility. It is the largest active Army Ammunition Plant. Radford is located in the mountains of southwest Virginia in Pulaski and Montgomery Counties in what is known as the New River Valley. The installation consists of two noncontiguous areas totaling 6,901 acres. The New River Unit (2,821 acres), which encompasses this IBA, has storage bunkers and is located 10 miles away from the main plant. The area surrounding both units is mostly agricultural and rural residential. During peacetime, large portions of the facility are not used and are therefore marketted to commercial companies.

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