The Rice Center, located on 494 acres along the lower James River, has a rich diversity of ecological habitats as well as flora and fauna. Most of the acreage is covered by forest in various stages of succession.
The property supports a variety of aquatic and terrestrial habitats including tidal and non-tidal wetlands, vernal pools, the James River, upland and bottomland hardwood forest, a pine forest and an open meadow. Common to the area are Bald Eagles, as this region of the river supports the largest nesting population of eagles in the eastern U.S., one of the reasons that the Audubon Society designated this section of the river as the Lower James River Important Birding Area.
Historically, the site supports significant cultural resources, including evidence of Native American inhabitation, use of the site during the Colonial Period and extensive Civil War earthworks. These ecological and cultural resources provide the setting for the many research and educational programs taking place at the Rice Center.