Our Work

Through the generous support of our members and help from PEC's partners, a lot of great things have happened this year! We've pulled together this quick list of some of the highlights from 2018 throughout our 9-county region:

  • PEC received the Dugdale Award in Charlottesville for Meritorious Achievement in Conservation from the Garden Club of Virginia.

  • The Roundabout Meadows Community Farm located on PEC-owned property at Gilbert’s Corner in Loudoun County (the intersection of Routes 15 and 50) has become a reality. We have hired a new farm manager, Dana Melby, who is now making additional improvements to the site in anticipation of our first crops in 2019. The Community Farm will engage local volunteers to grow fresh produce for Loudoun Hunger Relief and provide opportunities for education and outreach to residents of suburban Loudoun.

  • The Larson Native Plant Garden at the PEC Horner Street office has already hosted a number of habitat workshops, tours, and a citizen science project focused on pollination ecology.

  • This year nearly 150 attendees came to the Annual Meeting at Castle Hill Farm in Keswick, VA. The keynote speaker, Chuck Marohn, presented a Strong Towns concept focused on achieving long-term prosperity in our communities.

Albemarle County & Charlottesville

  • Sean Tubbs, previously of Charlottesville Tomorrow, joined the PEC team this summer and is working alongside Rex Linville and Peter Krebs to advocate for the creation of a high-quality community with a smart transportation network. We are working to ensure that a new economic development strategy is consistent with Albemarle's tradition of protecting its natural resources from sprawling development.

  • PEC assisted the City of Charlottesville in negotiations with a private landowner and in securing $600,000 from the USDA Community Forestry Program to acquire and protect land near Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

  • PEC held its 7th annual Mountain Heritage Day at historic Mount Fair Farm in western Albemarle County. The property’s owners, John and Dudley Macfarlane, generously opened up their property to the community to take a trip back in time to learn about the mountain culture of Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Over the course of the day, more than 300 visitors joined us. Nearly 150 participants took part in our concurrent walking tours, which focused on the architectural history of Mount Fair as well as the history of its enslaved community.

  • PEC has held more than 200 community meetings to build support for a regional network of greenway trails in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area. In November, PEC helped organize a sold-out community forum headlined by Charles Brown, an advocate for socioeconomic, gender, and racial equity in transportation planning.

  • PEC is facilitating dialogue between Albemarle County and homeowners about a trail easement along the strategic corridor linking the future Biscuit Run Park and the rest of Charlottesville core area.

  • PEC worked with the City of Charlottesville and several local businesses to organize a series of social bike rides to promote cycling for fun and transportation, while increasing its visibility and strengthening civil society. PEC has received a grant from BAMAworks Fund to continue these rides in 2019.

  • PEC is coordinating active transportation advocacy groups in a unified campaign for increased local funding for bicycle and pedestrian transportation infrastructure in Albemarle and Charlottesville.

Clarke County

  • At a PEC-owned property, The Piedmont Memorial Overlook, on Paris Mountain (located on the border of Clarke and Fauquier), we have continued to improve wildlife habitat by restoring a 17 acre native meadow for grassland birds and pollinators. The property overlooks more than 100,000 acres of conserved rural land, ensuring the stunning pastoral views are forever protected. The Overlook is appreciated daily by hikers traversing the Appalachian Trail and adjoining Sky Meadows State Park.

  • PEC supported the county’s update to the Water Resources Plan, which will help conserve surface and groundwater, as well as keep it cleaner and safer. The plan includes stronger septic protections, additional monitoring and data collection and a well water testing program.

  • The Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains presented their Friend of the Mountain Award to The Clarke County Easement Authority and also to the Piedmont Environmental Council and other conservation easement holders in the region.

  • PEC’s third annual Sporting Clays for Conservation event was another fun outing that helped support conservation funding.

  • This past spring, Pam Lettie invited artists to collaborate in a celebration of Clarke County with a coffee table book, “Clarke’s Great Outdoors,” that she recently published and is donating proceeds to PEC. Copies are still available at Barns of Rose Hill, and they make great holiday gifts! 

Culpeper County

  • The interest in utility-scale solar has sparked great interest in developing best practices and policies that seek to avoid sensitive sites. PEC continues to provide a leadership role in this conversation and is advocating for the Commonwealth to be more active in assisting localities and directing the industry to better sites.

  • Our Headwater Stream Initiative (including parts of Fauquier, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Orange, Madison and Greene) provides free technical assistance, project design, materials, and labor for the planting of native trees and shrubs in riparian zones on properties in the headwater counties of the Rappahannock River Watershed. In 2018, 12 projects were completed to plant over 2,600 riparian trees and 2,400 live stakes on 16 acres with the help of nearly 300 volunteers. Many volunteers included local schools and community groups, and partners included VA Department of Forestry, Soil and Water Districts, and Friends of the Rappahannock.

  • In September, PEC hosted the first Farm-to-Table Showcase at Rock Hill Farm in Culpeper. The event was an opportunity for buyers from restaurants, retail stores, schools, food hubs, bed and breakfasts and others to sample local products and meet with area farmers and producers. Twenty-seven local farmers set up vendor tables to share their meats, dairy, vegetables, fruits, ciders and value-added products.

Fauquier County

  • The county can boast that over 25% of the land area is now protected. The protected land covers 41,609 acres of preserved forests; 424 miles of streams; 54,036 acres of prime farmland; and 4,436 acres of wetlands and acres of valuable wildlife habitat that will endure for generations.

  • The Julian Scheer Fauquier County Land Conservation Fund has provided outreach and education in support of the Fauquier purchase of development rights (PDR) program. This county-funded project aims to protect working farmland. The fund has also provided dollars for surveys, title and other work on easements.

  • Our Headwater Stream Initiative (including parts of Fauquier, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Orange, Madison and Greene) provides free technical assistance, project design, materials, and labor for the planting of native trees and shrubs in riparian zones on properties in the headwater counties of the Rappahannock River Watershed. In 2018, 12 projects were completed to plant over 2,600 riparian trees and 2,400 live stakes on 16 acres with the help of nearly 300 volunteers.

  • At a PEC-owned property, The Piedmont Memorial Overlook, on Paris Mountain (located on the border of Clarke and Fauquier), we have continued to improve wildlife habitat by restoring a 17 acre native meadow for grassland birds and pollinators. The property overlooks more than 100,000 acres of conserved rural land, ensuring the stunning pastoral views are forever protected. The Overlook is appreciated daily by hikers traversing the Appalachian Trail and adjoining Sky Meadows State Park.

  • PEC led the fight to preserve the Waterloo Bridge. This “iron bridge” was the oldest metal truss bridge still actively used by vehicular traffic in Virginia until its closure in January of 2014. It was erected in 1878 and connects Fauquier and Culpeper Counties over the Rappahannock River. The bridge was scheduled for replacement, but a groundswell of local support for saving the structure caused VDOT to simply close the bridge and remove language regarding replacement. After years of community advocacy and a commitment of $1,000,000, VDOT put forward a proposal to rehabilitate the bridge. Construction is planned to begin in 2019.

  • Another important role that we play is monitoring County planning and land use proposals. We provide knowledgeable review and offer comments to help ensure the continued protection of our rural areas and vibrant development in our growth areas. We encourage advocacy and engagement of our members in the community planning process and help to organize well-informed opposition when necessary.

Greene and Madison Counties

  • PEC is supporting Trout Unlimited and Shenandoah National Park with their efforts to reconnect habitat for brook trout by replacing the road crossing on Cedar Run with a fish-friendly design. The crossing allows vehicle access to the popular White Oak Canyon trail, and is currently closed to traffic due to damage sustained from the summer’s rainfall events. Construction is scheduled for 2019.

  • This year, the Greene County Board of Supervisors adopted a new master plan for the Ruckersville community which seeks to transform the junction of U.S. 29 and U.S. 33 into "a community-focused destination with a sense of place."

  • At the same time, Greene has taken steps to implement a water supply plan that could cost as much as $65 million. We will work to help lower cost by revisiting water demand projections.

  • Our Headwater Stream Initiative (including parts of Fauquier, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Orange, Madison and Greene) provides free technical assistance, project design, materials, and labor for the planting of native trees and shrubs in riparian zones on properties in the headwater counties of the Rappahannock River Watershed. In 2018, 12 projects were completed to plant over 2,600 riparian trees and 2,400 live stakes on 16 acres with the help of nearly 300 volunteers. Many volunteers included local schools and community groups, and partners included VA Department of Forestry, Soil and Water Districts, and Friends of the Rappahannock.

  • With federal funding from the American Battlefield Protection Program, PEC has completed a study of the Battles of Jack’s Shop and James City, two Civil War engagements which occurred in the fall of 1863 in Madison County. The project refined the boundaries of the battles and allowed the community to develop a better understanding of how they unfolded on the landscape, and their significance within the context of the war. Our hope is that the project will build momentum and support for conserving portions of these battlefield landscapes in the years to come.

  • Another aspect of PEC’s growing mountain heritage program, These Hills Were Home is a trail guide and historic narrative about the history of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northwestern Greene and Madison Counties. It was written by PEC’s Historic Preservation Manager, Kristie Kendall, and published by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club in 2017. The book looks at the history of settlement in the mountains prior to the creation of Shenandoah National Park and relies heavily on photos and maps to tell the story of the mountain people who lived in the Blue Ridge and the homes, churches, school, stores that flourished there. PEC donated valuable staff time to produce the maps in the book.

  • This year, Greene also adopted an economic development and strategy that places a high emphasis on protecting the county's rural places.

Loudoun County

  • The Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club and the Oak Springs Foundation have joined as partners at Gilbert’s Corner to help with the design of a public trail that will take advantage of the views, habitats and the historic resources including the Old Carolina Road.

  • For over two years, Loudoun County has been engaged in an update to its Comprehensive Plan, which will likely set the course for future land development for many years. PEC staff are preparing technical comments, organizing and leading community briefings and reaching out to new constituents across the county to encourage participation.

  • More than 60% of Loudoun residents live in Homeowners Association (HOA) governed communities, and collectively have a major impact on the health of the local environment. This past year, PEC continued in its 6-year outreach to HOA boards, property managers and residents on habitat improvements that also provide water quality benefits. PEC and partners presented the second successful HOA Forum on practical steps toward more sustainable practices including use of native plants, avoiding and removing exotic invasive plants and increasing tree canopy.

  • Over the last year, PEC has worked with multiple partners to develop and promote the Emerald Ribbons concept as a project that will help stream valley and other trail connections become a reality. With only 1.6 % of County land designated as parkland, the public has made it abundantly clear that they want more opportunities to get outside. Our goal is to create a county-wide network of stream valley trails connecting Loudoun’s parks and residential areas.

  • PEC and allied groups have been advocating for the county to take a more proactive role to encourage land conservation. Our staff has offered a variety of options the county could and should pursue, including establishing an easement purchase program to preserve productive farmland and forestland.

  • This year, we welcomed an additional staff member to our Loudoun team. Evan McCarthy jumped in to help Gem Bingol with the Comprehensive Plan and specific development proposals throughout the County. Tracy Lind, who joined PEC last November as a field representative, has been supporting landowners in several easement donations and building interest in restoration in both the Goose Creek and Catoctin Creek watersheds.

Orange County

  • This year was a good one for land conservation along the Rapidan River! It started out strong with the Woyciks conserving Rose Hill Farm, situated just upstream of the Town of Rapidan. In late July, the Nixon family conserved Glenmary Farm further downstream at the base of Clark Mountain. We salute the conservation efforts of the two families, which resulted in protecting almost 900 acres of working farmland and two miles of frontage along the Rapidan River. Both properties are within the area of the proposed Rapidan River - Clark Mountain Rural Historic District.

  • James Madison’s Montpelier announced at that they are pursuing a conservation easement with PEC on nearly 1,000 acres.

  • We also worked with the Gordonsville community to expand its neighborhood park to an entire town block by working with local PEC members to secure approximately half of the funding needed to acquire an old residential parcel.

  • The Montpelier-Grelen Trail, developed with PEC support in 2015, continues to attract a steady stream of walkers.

  • Our Headwater Stream Initiative (including parts of Fauquier, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Orange, Madison and Greene) provides free technical assistance, project design, materials, and labor for the planting of native trees and shrubs in riparian zones on properties in the headwater counties of the Rappahannock River Watershed. In 2018, 12 projects were completed to plant over 2,600 riparian trees and 2,400 live stakes on 16 acres with the help of nearly 300 volunteers. Many volunteers included local schools and community groups, and partners included VA Department of Forestry, Soil and Water Districts, and Friends of the Rappahannock.

  • Orange is also making progress in its review of the Comprehensive Plan. In a recent county alert, we made you aware of the Planning Commission draft and some rather disturbing language, including language that sought to prevent easements in specific areas of the county.

Rappahannock County

  • PEC has engaged with community partners in Rappahannock County to promote conservation projects for the local Recreation Center and Park in Washington.

  • Following a recommendation from the advisory committee to PEC’s Krebser Fund for Rappahannock County Conservation, PEC and the Piedmont Foundation made up to $50,000 available to landowners seeking to implement agricultural best management practices through the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District.

  • Our Headwater Stream Initiative (including parts of Fauquier, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Orange, Madison and Greene) provides free technical assistance, project design, materials, and labor for the planting of native trees and shrubs in riparian zones on properties in the headwater counties of the Rappahannock River Watershed. In 2018, 12 projects were completed to plant over 2,600 riparian trees and 2,400 live stakes on 16 acres with the help of nearly 300 volunteers. Many volunteers included local schools and community groups, and partners included VA Department of Forestry, Soil and Water Districts, and Friends of the Rappahannock.

  • PEC has been awarded National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funding for several pilot projects for fish passage in the headwater streams that native species Eastern brook trout and American eel call home. Planned projects in 2019 will partner with private landowners and VDOT to improve water quality and fish passage at two road-stream crossings in Rappahannock County.


Make a Year-End Gift

Please consider a tax-deductible year-end contribution to The Piedmont Environmental Council -- you’ll become a member or renew your existing membership with any gift of $40 or more.

If you would prefer to donate offline, please send a check made payable to PEC to P.O. Box 460, Warrenton, VA 20188 or call Danielle Castellano at 540-347-2334 ext.7001.

 
 
 

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