For immediate release: January 15, 2013
The Piedmont Environmental Council
Clarke County Land Conservation Officer
Landowners Protect 782 Acres in Clarke in 2012
Nine properties in Clarke County -- totaling 782 acres -- were protected by conservation easements* in 2012. This brings the total protected land in the County to over 21,480 acres, or 19% of the land in Clarke.
One hundred and twenty one acres of farmland owned by M.S. Buckley & Son (located on Rt. 340, adjacent to the Greenway Rural Historic District) was among the properties protected. The easement on this productive farm will help conserve prime farmland soils on land that the Buckley family has been farming since 1882. It will also protect the headwaters of Westbrook Run, a tributary of Spout Run.
Don Loock, Clarke County Land Conservation Officer for The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) says, “PEC is proud to have been able to provide a portion of the funding for this project through our Clarke Conservation Fund. This easement represents one of three farmland easements held by the Clarke County Easement Authority (CCEA) that PEC’s Clarke Fund is contributing to in 2012 and 2013.”
The CCEA had another strong year, completing eight conservation easements in 2012. “Once again,” Loock says, “the CCEA was able to leverage a small amount of county funds -- with federal and state grants and landowner donations -- to complete some great projects. PEC looks forward to working with CCEA on other projects that should make 2013 another exciting year for conservation.”
Another important project in 2012 was an easement on the Ovoka property near Paris. PEC purchased this land in 2000, with the aim of eventually protecting the property with conservation easements. While the majority of the protected farm is located in Fauquier County, approximately 74 acres of the property are located in Clarke County. The property was permanently protected with an easement in May 2012 -- ensuring that the vista that George Washington enjoyed each morning as he left his cabin in Paris stays rural and open for generations to come.
In total, conservation easements in Clarke County now protect:
- Approximately 55 miles of streams and rivers
- 9,104 acres of prime farming soils
- Over 7,300 acres of forests
- 12,225 acres along Scenic Byways
- More than 15,500 acres in the viewshed of the Appalachian Trail
- 880 acres of historic battlefields
- 10,844 acres in historic districts
These resources not only make Clarke 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 around $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.
PEC protects over 370 acres in Clarke County by holding two easements in the County and co-holding another.
“Looking ahead,” says Heather Richards, PEC’s Vice President for Conservation and Rural Programs, “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.
*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, scenic, and cultural resources on their land.
Background information: how do conservation easements work?