*Press Release*

Contact: Mike Kane 
Director of Land Conservation
The Piedmont Environmental Council
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (540) 347-2337 ext. 7063

Protecting more wetlands, farmland and forests

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View the online map library of land conserved in the Piedmont in 2016

The Piedmont Environmental Council reports a combined total of 7,595 acres were protected in Albemarle, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Loudoun, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock Counties in 2016 by various land trusts and public agencies. This brings the total acreage of land under conservation easement in the nine counties to 394,963 acres.

“One of the lessons I’ve learned over the years is that landowners choosing to permanently conserve their land, generally do so out of a sense of optimism about the future. They believe in the intrinsic value of the Piedmont's farms and forest, history and beauty, and want to protect those resources for future generations,” said Mike Kane, director of conservation at PEC. “That wonderful spirit is evident again as more than 60 families, landowners, farmers, organizations and local government conserved -- in just one year -- more farm and forest land in our region than the entire land area covered by the City of Charlottesville.”

Buck’s Elbow Mountain in Albemarle County is one of the conservation highlights from this past year. The landowner, Mitch Carr, conserved 263 acres of valuable forestland. The land is also important locally because it’s the site of the 1959 Piedmont Airlines Flight 349 crash, and remnants of the fuselage remain on site.

“Conserving this forested property helps contribute to water quality, as it contains streams that ultimately flow into the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. It contains two globally-rare significant natural communities, and it has the potential for rare plants,” said Kim Biasiolli, forest conservation specialist at Virginia Department of Forestry, and who oversees the easement.

Another conservation success from 2016 includes farmland with ties to the Civil War. Howard and Jane Grove conserved 181 acres of their beef cattle farm in Morrisville, Virginia through the Fauquier County Purchase of Development Rights program, which purchases easements to conserve working farms and farmland in the county.

“I used the funds to buy more farmland, more family farmland, to start piecing it back together,” said Mr. Grove.

The property was once known as Belvaderia Farm, dating back to pre-Civil War times, and an archaeological site has revealed remains of historic outbuildings. Also identified was an African-American cemetery, according to Ray Pickering, the Fauquier County PDR program manager.

"Mr. Grove is a well-respected farmer who has implemented many conservation practices. He serves on the board of directors of John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District, and he was past President of the Fauquier Farm Bureau,” said Pickering.

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

County Acres Protected in 2016 by Conservation Easements Total Acres Protected by Conservation Easements
Albemarle 1,736 98,799
Clarke 1,210 24,939
Culpeper 523 18,600
Fauquier 1,262 102,332
Greene 0 10,448
Loudoun 1,536 56,375
Madison 844 15,761
Orange 412 35,292
Rappahannock 72 32,417
REGIONAL 7,595 394,963

In total, conservation easements in the nine counties have protected approximately:

  • 1,633 miles of streams;
  • 9,603 acres of wetlands;
  • 186,256 acres of prime farming soils;
  • 186,100 acres of forests;
  • 106,184 acres along Scenic Byways;
  • 118,478 acres in the viewshed of the Appalachian Trail;
  • 124,734 acres in historic districts; and
  • 28,626 acres of Civil War battlefields.

>> See maps of protected lands in Virginia's northern 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 like PEC) to permanently protect natural, scenic and cultural resources on their land.