Last year, landowners partnered with The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) and other land trusts and conservation agencies to permanently protect 6,651 acres of land in Albemarle, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Loudoun, Orange and Rappahannock counties. Fifty new conservation easements bring the total amount of easement-land in PEC’s nine-county region to 439,782 acres.
“Conserved lands provide the important public benefits of clean air and drinking water, natural flood controls and carbon reduction, wildlife habitat, scenic views that attract millions to the region, and strong agricultural, forestry and recreational economies,” said PEC President Chris Miller.
Albemarle County led the region’s conservation success last year, with 11 easements comprising 1,700 acres. Now, with 111,305 total acres conserved, Albemarle has more lands under conservation easement than any other locality in the Commonwealth. PEC Senior Conservation Field Representative Kim Biasiolli credits decades of effort by various conservation organizations, especially the county’s own land conservation programs, which make conservation an option for landowners of all income levels. “We hope that as the county reviews its Comprehensive Plan over the next two years, it will continue to support the Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority and reinvigorate the county’s Purchase of Development Rights program,” she said.
In Culpeper County, PEC board member John Grano and his wife Cynthia placed their 154-acre property under easement with the Land Trust of Virginia. This easement will protect over three-quarters of a mile of Crooked Run – a tributary to the Rapidan River – with a 100-foot riparian buffer, ensure that many acres of designated wetlands and floodplain remains in a natural state, and preserve 102 acres of Prime and Statewide Important Soils.
“The challenge is to ensure that the abundant public benefit of the Piedmont’s exceptional resources are available for future generations,” says PEC Director of Conservation Mike Kane. “As such, PEC has a goal of working with landowners and other conservation organizations to protect one million acres, representing about half of the land in our nine-county service area. We believe this goal is achievable thanks to the tremendous interest landowners have expressed in voluntary land conservation over the past generation combined with the continuing commitment on the part of both PEC and our preservation allies.”
Learn more about protecting our land with a conservation easement at pecva.org/easements.
This article appeared in 2023 spring edition of The Piedmont Environmental Council’s member newsletter, The Piedmont View. If you’d like to become a PEC member or renew your membership, please visit pecva.org/join.