For immediate release: January 15, 2013
The Piedmont Environmental Council
Vice President, Rural and Conservation Programs
Landowners Protect 1,243 Acres in Culpeper in 2012
Three properties in Culpeper County -- totaling 1,243 acres -- were protected by conservation easements* in 2012. This brings the total protected land in the County to over 14,800 acres, or 6% of the total land in Culpeper.
Heather Richards, Vice President for Conservation and Rural Programs for The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) says, “We are thrilled with the continued commitment of landowners in Culpeper County to the protection of important land in the community. As a Culpeper resident, I am thankful for these landowners’ work to protect our community’s heritage and agricultural vitality. PEC looks forward to continuing to work one-on-one with landowners to find solutions that benefit the agricultural economic engine of the community, while also respecting and celebrating the unique heritage of this region.”
Mountain Valley Farm and the Triple S Land Management Tract were among the Culpeper County properties protected last year. Mountain Valley Farm is a 241-acre historic farm, with nearly 1.5 miles of frontage on Mountain Run. It also is within the study area for the Brandy Station Battlefield, as designated by the American Battlefield Protection Program. The Triple S Land Management Tract is a family-owned turfgrass farm. Their 964-acre property includes approximately 1.3 miles along the Rappahannock River and lies entirely within Kelly’s Ford, Brandy Station, and Rappahannock Station II Battlefields.
Both easements were donated to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The protection of these two properties will contribute to water quality in the Rappahannock River, which provides drinking water to the City of Fredericksburg and other downstream communities.
In total, conservation easements in Culpeper County now protect approximately 60 miles of streams and rivers, over 9,100 acres of prime farming soils, 5,170 acres of forests, 2,490 acres along Scenic Byways, and more than 6,900 acres of historic battlefields. These resources not only make Culpeper County a great place to live, but they 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 about $21.8 billion to Virginia’s economy every year.
PEC is an accredited land trust, and it celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012. PEC has been promoting private, voluntary land conservation in Virginia’s northern Piedmont since 1972, contributing to this region’s outstanding success. In PEC’s nine-county region, more than 9,500 acres were protected by conservation easements in 2012 -- contributing to a total of over 357,600 acres, or 16.8% of the total land in the region.
In 2012, PEC accepted easements on three properties -- taking on the responsibility to protect the nearly 840 acres in perpetuity. PEC now holds a total of 46 easements, more than 6,600 acres, throughout our nine-county region. PEC has also accepted the donation of 177 acres of fee-simple property in Rappahannock and Albemarle Counties.
“Looking ahead,” says Richards, “we expect landowners to continue to donate easements and protect land in their community at a strong pace. Landowners who donate a conservation easement in 2013 will enjoy an enhanced federal income tax deduction, in addition to the Virginia Land Preservation Tax Credit.”
PEC works with numerous conservation partners, including state agencies and other land trusts, to protect land in the Piedmont. Both the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation accepted easements in Culpeper County in 2012.
*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?