Land Conservation

PEC has helped landowners permanently protect over 430,000 acres of rural or natural land. Conservation Easements help ensure that the Virginia Piedmont is always characterized by its open spaces, healthy environment, and cultural resources.

ACE Landowner Testimonials

ACE Landowner Testimonials

Land conservation programs are a critically important tool for protecting Albemarle’s open space, which includes working farms and forestland and important natural and cultural resources. We asked landowners to share how the Acquisition of Conservation Easements (ACE) program impacted them. Here is what ACE landowners had to say in their own words.

Learn more about strengthening land conversation programs in Albemarle County →

river surrounded by green trees

“I’m 87 years old. I wanted to deal locally where it is for conservation, but also where it’s good for my county. Albemarle County is probably one of the most beautiful counties in the whole United States and you need to balance conservation and rural areas with development. 

I could not have done the easement without [the ACE program’s financial incentives]. After we agreed we were going to put the land in conservation…I had to delve into how I could be able to afford to do that. I’m a poor widow. I didn’t need a tax break. [This] could put some money in my pocket, which I did…I took that money and that’s what I’m living off of.”

– Janice Stargill, Schuyler

“This property has been in the family since 1868 and we’re doing everything we possibly can to protect it for future generations. It’s an active farm and because we have neighbors in conservation easement, that helped us qualify [to create continuous land]. We are very pleased to be in the ACE program…we want to protect the rural environment. 

I’ve been in agriculture all my life, it’s just a way of life for us. This is an agrarian society and I certainly couldn’t afford to farm this land or any of the other properties that I have with the high tax base. [ACE] makes it affordable to continue their [farming] lifestyle. It is a vital tool to continue. We chose it because it wasn’t such a big animal to deal with, and liked dealing with local people.”

– Ron Woodson, North Garden

“There’s a lot of water on the property…and mature forest. The North Fork meets the South Fork of the Hardware and forms the mainstream, that’s all on this property. It also has very diverse plant life and bird life and we try to treat it as a conservation property as much as possible, but it is also a working farm. 

It was part of my dad’s farm…and I was determined to hold onto [my portion of the property after her siblings sold theirs]. ACE helped make that possible for us so we’re forever grateful.

– Margaret Anderson, Carter’s Bridge

“ACE seemed like the easiest path in order to protect the property. And my neighbor did it and the fact that I was doing it, made it like a contingent forest was a plus. The program was less complicated and the County paid for the appraisal that was important. There wasn’t a whole lot of cost and hassle involved and getting the ACE payment for the development rights right up front meant I didn’t have to worry about all the tax credits. 

The whole property is 107 acres. There’s 16 acres open and the rest is forested. Even though it was timbered [before I purchased the property], it is still a forest. I hope we continue to have supervisors in the county that want to preserve rural land. With the easement process, the simpler you can make it, the better and the less expensive you can make it, the better.”

– Dan Bieker, North Garden
green farmland with mountain in background

“I wanted to preserve the land in some way. I think living in Batesville, living in a small town, everybody in a way who has been here for a long time is grateful that the land won’t be divided again. The ACE program gave me financial incentive as well as the incentive of preserving it forever. There’s a large apiary on one of the fields, fruit trees, natural grasses, and forest. 

I’m going to end up selling the place to somebody someday and I wanted it to go in its entirety because it did have a fair amount of division rights, like 10 or 12. And I didn’t want it to be chopped up for 10 or 12 more houses to be in Batesville. A lot of farmers and old timers who have 25-50 acre pieces of land could really benefit financially from this program.”

– Jason Pollock, Batesville

My farm’s in conservation easement and the 500-year forest, so I’ve done as much as I can for my legacy. I come at it from a naturalist and a farmer point of view. [The ACE program] has allowed me to not have to farm until I’m dead on the ground.

– Peter Dutnell, North Garden

Learn more about strengthening land conversation programs in Albemarle County →

Rural Landowner Manual: A Resource Guide for the Northern Piedmont

Rural Landowner Manual: A Resource Guide for the Northern Piedmont

The publication includes a list of experts, programs and opportunities to assist landowners, with practical advice on navigating the complexities of rural property stewardship.

On the Ground Updates – March 2024

A series of short updates from around the PEC region.

Conservation Stories Across the Region: Beth Plentovich and Howie Kelly, Protection Through Perseverance

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Beth Plentovich and Howie Kelly know the true importance of relentless incrementalism for achieving exponential results.

A Conservation Journey in Madison County

A Conservation Journey in Madison County

Carolyn Smith’s Madison County property has been on quite the journey since her parents first purchased the former cattle operation in 1965. Donating a 129-acre conservation easement in late 2023 came on the heels of decades of successful land stewardship by Carolyn, her parents, and a community of partners who have worked to restore and repair the land for wildlife habitat, pollinators and native plants.