Highroad Guide to the Virginia Mountains
By Deane and Garvey Winegar
[Fig. 17(15)] In Grayson County, on the plateau between the Blue Ridge escarpment and the Iron Mountains to the northwest, is an area of wetlands known as The Glades. Big Spring Bog Natural Area Preserve is one of these wetlands. The preserve was acquired by The Nature Conservancy, transferred to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and dedicated in 1990. The preserve encompasses 50 acres of land approximately 7 miles south of Galax, just north of the Virginia/North Carolina line.
Soil in the area is saturated with magnesium, creating a harsh environment that keeps out invading trees and shrubs and stunts the growth of common plants. With the lack of competition from the usual dominant plants, rare species are surprisingly abundant. Eleven globally rare plants, including largeleaf grass-of-Parnassus, Gray's lily, and shortleaf sneezeweed, thrive at Big Spring Bog.
The bog turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii) is a rare, small freshwater turtle found in Virginia only on the southern Blue Ridge Plateau. Its habitat is upland freshwater wetlands in open fields, meadows, marshes with slow-moving streams, ditches, and boggy areas. Because of the fragile nature of the wetland, access is allowed for research and educational purposes only.
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