For immediate release: January 17, 2012
Piedmont Environmental Council
Madison Land Conservation Officer
Three farms comprising nearly 300 acres in Madison County were protected by conservation easements in 2011, adding to a total of approximately 13,400 acres, or 7.5% of the total land outside the Shenandoah National Park.
“The landowners who have voluntarily protected this land from development are helping all of us keep land to grow local foods, filter clean water, and to preserve the rural heritage our ancestors worked so hard to create,” says Beth Burnam, PEC’s Land Conservation staff in Madison.
See a map of protected lands in Madison County.
Last year’s conservation projects in Madison County include a cluster of properties bordering on the Rapidan River, totaling 192 acres. Altogether, approximately 6,000 acres along the Rapidan River, including nearly 10 miles of its banks, are protected in Madison--preserving important farmland as well as clean water.
Another 2011 conservation highlight in Madison County is Hickory Hill Farm on Beautiful Run. Landowner Bob Bernard donated a conservation easement to PEC on this 85-acre former dairy farm in the heart of Madison County, with fertile soils and almost 3,000 linear feet of stream frontage. The land was already enrolled in a federal CREP program to protect water quality, when Bernard approached PEC with his desire to permanently protect the land. Hickory Hill will continue to be open for farming forever, and will also help to provide clean drinking water for thousands of people downstream in Orange and Fredericksburg.
Bob Bernard sent the following message to PEC in December, after the easement was complete: “All the best for 2012 and thank you for your help in acquiring the Conservation Easement for the farm. Dani and I are happy and proud we did it!”
In total, conservation easements in Madison County now protect approximately 60 miles of streams and rivers, 6,100 acres of prime farmland, 6,700 acres of forests and 800 acres along Scenic Byways. These resources make Madison County a great place to live and are fundamental to the local and state economies. A recent study by PEC found that nine environmental benefits, such as recreation, farm products, and water quality, contribute $21.8 billion to Virginia’s economy every year. Additionally, land conservation in Madison helps to reduce the Local Composite Index, bringing the County more state funding for education.
PEC, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2012, has been promoting private, voluntary land conservation in Virginia’s northern Piedmont since 1972, contributing to this region’s outstanding success. In the nine-county region where PEC works, approximately 12,100 acres were protected by conservation easements in 2011, adding to a total of over 348,000 acres or 15% of the total land in the region.
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a land trust (such as a public agency or a non-profit conservation group) to permanently protect natural and cultural resources on their land.
Background information: how do conservation easements work?