For immediate release: January 15, 2013
The Piedmont Environmental Council
Albemarle and Greene Land Conservation Officer
434.977.2033 ext. 23
Landowners Protect Over 1,500 Acres in Albemarle in 2012
Over 1,500 acres of land in Albemarle County were protected by conservation easements* in 2012 -- bringing the total protected land in the County to approximately 87,00 acres, or 19% of the land outside of Shenandoah National Park. Albemarle County is one of the most protected counties in Virginia.
Rex Linville, Land Conservation Officer for The Piedmont Environmental Council says, “It is great to see landowners in the county continuing to make a significant commitment to preserving our rural resources -- including our waterways and working farmland and forests. Many of the conservation projects in 2012 added to, or linked together, what were already large blocks of protected land.”
A few highlights from last year’s conservation projects include the following:
- The protection of 120 acres of forest on Fox Mountain through a conservation easement donation to the Virginia Department of Forestry. This parcel links together a block of protected land on Fox Mountain -- totaling nearly 3,000 acres.
- The donation of 160 acres to The Piedmont Environmental Council by the Bowers Family. This land -- adjacent to the Hickory Ridge Farm subdivision near Earlysville --will be permanently conserved as a rural property by PEC.
- The protection of approximately 270 acres of Georgetown Farm in Free Union by conservation buyers -- who purchased and preserved the property in the same year.
- The protection of two farms -- totaling over 120 acres -- through the Albemarle County Acquisition of Conservation Easements (ACE) program. The ACE program protects the Rural Area by purchasing conservation easements from landowners who may not receive significant tax benefits from making a conservation easement donation.
In total, conservation easements in Albemarle County now protect 377 miles of streams and rivers, 32,182 acres of prime farming soils, over 1,100 acres of wetlands, 57,881 acres of forests, almost 23,600 acres along Scenic Byways, and over 35,800 acres in historic districts.
These resources make Albemarle and Charlottesville great places to live and are fundamental to the local and state economies. A 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. Conservation easements are a way that private landowners can voluntarily protect these resources for the benefit of future generations.
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. In Albemarle County, PEC holds two easements and co-holds two easements -- protecting over 500 acres in the County. PEC also owns 160 acres of fee-simple land in Albemarle.
“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. Easements in Albemarle County were accepted by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, Albemarle County, and the Virginia Department of Forestry 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?