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For immediate release: January 22, 2014

 Over 11,598 acres in The Piedmont Environmental Council’s (PEC) nine-county region were permanently protected by conservation easements* in 2013. This brings the total acreage of land under conservation easement in the region to 369,240 acres. Map of protected lands in Virginia's northern Piedmont >>

Heather Richards, PEC’s Vice President for Conservation and Rural Programs, said, "2013 was a strong year of land conservation in the Piedmont. A total of 69 landowners put their land in conservation easement, helping to protect working farms and forests that form the backbone of our rural economy, as well as the historic, cultural and scenic resources that draw tourists to the region. The conservation easements in 2013 complement the strong planning in our region, allowing the areas around our cities and towns to grow, while preserving the countryside that makes the Piedmont a remarkably special place."

“I’ve lived close to the land all my life, and I feel good that Sag Top, a peak that many assumed was part of the park, is now protected,” said Ralph England, who donated an easement on his property in Madison County. His property is adjacent to Shenandoah National Park, and Sag Top is a prominent part of the skyline for visitors to Old Rag and Whiteoak Canyon.

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

County

Acres Protected in 2013
by Conservation Easements

Total Acres Protected
by Conservation Easements

Albemarle

2,819

90,100

Clarke

1,733

23,250

Culpeper

1,144

16,000

Fauquier

1,143

97,748

Greene

213

10,380

Loudoun

1,096

52,075

Madison

1,169

14,362

Orange

1,454

34,075

Rappahannock

826

31,250

REGIONAL

11,598

369,240


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

  • 1,524 miles of streams and rivers
  • 8,993 acres of wetlands
  • 173,572 acres of prime farming soils
  • 170,447 acres of forests
  • 99,969 acres along scenic byways
  • 110,131 acres in the viewshed of the Appalachian Trail
  • 118,128 acres in historic districts and
  • 27,330 acres of Civil War battlefields

These resources make the region a great place to live, and they are fundamental to the local and state economies. A 2011 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.

In 2013, PEC accepted easements on a total of five properties -- taking on the responsibility to protect the 963 acres in perpetuity. PEC now holds a total of 51 easements, protecting 7,588 acres, throughout a nine-county region. These easements protected historic estates in Albemarle County, working farms in Madison and Fauquier Counties, and land destined to become a public park in Loudoun County. PEC also accepted the donation of 141 acres of fee-simple property in Loudoun County 2013.

PEC is an accredited land trust, promoting private, voluntary land conservation in Virginia’s northern Piedmont since 1972. PEC does extensive outreach to landowners and advocates for local, state and federal policies that strengthen land conservation. In an extended effort to protect land in the Piedmont, PEC works with numerous conservation partners, including state agencies and other land trusts.

*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 2013 Conservation Map Library >>

Background information: how do conservation easements work?

 
 
 

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