Press Center

For immediate release: January 15, 2013

Contact:
Heather Richards
The Piedmont Environmental Council
Vice President, Conservation and Rural Programs
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703.203.0060

Over 9,500 Acres Protected in Virginia’s Northern Piedmont in 2012

Over  9,500 acres in The Piedmont Environmental Council’s (PEC) nine-county region were protected by conservation easements* in 2012 -- contributing to a total of more than 357,600 acres, or 16.8% of the total land in the region. PEC’s service area includes Albemarle, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Loudoun, Madison, Orange, and Rappahannock counties.

See a map of protected lands in Virginia's northern Piedmont>>

Heather Richards, PEC’s Vice President for Conservation and Rural Programs, says, "Once again, landowners throughout the Piedmont have worked to help ensure this region remains a vital and beautiful place to live for themselves and for generations to come. PEC thanks the 55 landowners who made the commitment in 2012 to protect the health, beauty and rural economy of the Piedmont by permanently protecting their land. As a full-service land trust, five properties were conserved directly with PEC through conservation easements and fee ownership -- protecting over 1,000 acres in Albemarle, Madison, Rappahannock, Orange, Clarke and Fauquier Counties."

Approximate county-by-county conservation totals in the Piedmont region are as follows:

County

Acres Protected in 2012 by Conservation Easements

Total Acres Protected by Conservation Easements

Percentage of Total Land Protected by Conservation Easements**

Albemarle

1,546

87,247

19%

Clarke

782

21,519

19%

Culpeper

1,243

14,866

6%

Fauquier

2,116

96,606

23%

Greene

144

10,175

12%

Loudoun

730

50,980

15%

Madison

407

13,194

8%

Orange

1,425

32,622

15%

Rappahannock

1,127

30,430

25%

REGIONAL

9,520

357,637

16.8%


**Percentage not including conserved land in Albemarle, Greene, Madison and Rappahannock County that is within Shenandoah National Park

In total, conservation easements in PEC's nine county region now protect approximately:

  • 1,483 miles of streams and rivers
  • 8,692 acres of wetlands
  • 167,889 acres of prime farming soils
  • 164,267 acres of forests
  • 99,088 acres along Scenic Byways
  • 106,023 acres in the viewshed of the Appalachian Trail
  • 92,700 acres in historic districts
  • and 23,625 acres of Civil War battlefields


These resources not only make the region 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, which celebrated 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. PEC does extensive outreach to landowners and advocates for local, state and federal policies that strengthen land conservation. PEC is also a fully accredited land trust, and works with landowners who want to donate easements and property directly to PEC.

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, protecting 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. This takes the total acreage the organization owns to 495 acres in five counties. PEC works with numerous conservation partners, including state agencies and other land trusts, to protect land in the Piedmont.

“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.”

*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 like PEC) to permanently protect natural, scenic, and cultural resources on their land.

PEC's 2012 Conservation Map Library>>

Background information: how do conservation easements work?