Parks, trails, and sidewalks help weave a community together. Simply put, when we are connected to gathering places, we become better connected to each other. A walkable town or neighborhood allows for a stronger ‘sense of place’ to develop. This notion is behind a collaborative effort led by The Piedmont Environmental Council, residents and local businesses in Gordonsville, Virginia. The energetic group and initiative are called Town to Trail.
The Piedmont Environmental Council reports a total of 408,939 acres have been protected in Albemarle, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Loudoun, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock counties by landowners working together with land trusts and public agencies. The total includes 7,739 acres added in 2018.
Drawing over 150 attendees, PEC held their Annual Meeting on October 21 at historic Castle Hill Farm in Keswick. First Lady of Virginia Pamela Northam was in attendance and spoke about the importance of conserving lands in the state. Following the First Lady’s remarks, keynote speaker Charles Marohn, President and Founder of Strong Towns, delivered the keynote address.
This past summer, in an effort to preserve the prime farmland and help ensure continued operations, the Nixons chose to permanently protect 382 acres of their land through a conservation easement with the Piedmont Environmental Council, Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Distracted by an iconic red barn sitting atop picturesque rolling hills, I passed the gravel driveway I was supposed to turn down. As I found my way back, I saw the very reason I was visiting the Goodall property in Madison County. Long rows of newly planted trees nestled inside light green tubes stretched along a tributary of the Robinson River.
I met with brothers, Paul and Joe Goodall, to discuss their family’s participation in the Headwaters Stream Initiative, a partnership program coordinated by Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) and The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) to protect and restore the Rappahannock River watershed by working with landowners to plant native trees and shrubs and re-establish riparian buffers along waterways, which provide a healthy habitat for fish, wildlife and livestock.
“This beautiful and agricultural open land was here before we purchased Waverley and it’s my hopeful intention that it will look the same as it does today long after I’m gone,” remarked Charlotte Tieken, Somerset resident and owner of Waverley Farm.
The Piedmont Environmental Council worked with Ms. Tieken to put 669 acres of her property under conservation easement at the close of 2017.
The Piedmont Environmental Council worked with Ms. Tieken to put 669 acres of her property under conservation easement at the close of 2017. Down the road from James Madison’s Montpelier, the farm is located within the Madison-Barbour Rural Historic District and has over a mile of frontage on Constitution Highway. The district, known to have well-drained soils, rolling terrain and a mix of agricultural and forest land, now has a total of 14,645 acres conserved.
Bike and pedestrian connectivity is a great way to enhance quality of life and create healthy, thriving urban communities. This is why PEC is teaming up with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission to build support for a comprehensive greenway system in the Charlottesville and Albemarle urban area.
“These locations have an opportunity to create a world-class bike and pedestrian system that connects neighborhoods, retail areas and places of work with iconic resources such as Monticello, the Downtown Mall, UVA Grounds, the Rivanna River and Biscuit Run State Park,” says Rex Linville, our Albemarle County field representative.
Walkable locales with recreation options are, simply put, nicer places to live and visit, and they increase quality of life. That is why we have partnered with the Town of Remington and various community groups to develop a plan for future walking routes, trails, sidewalks, parks and bikeways in Remington.
If you happen to walk by our office in Old Town Warrenton, you may notice some changes around the building — a little more green, some dashes of color and new trees to boot. And along with it being aesthetically pleasing, it is sustainable.
It has been a year and a half since we finished the renovation of our headquarters office. Soon after we moved back in and unpacked, planning for the restoration of the grounds began.