For immediate release: January 22, 2014
The Piedmont Environmental Council
Albemarle and Greene Land Conservation Officer
434.977.2033 ext. 23
In 2013, an additional 212 acres were protected through two new conservation easements* in Greene County. This brings the total of privately protected land in the county to over 10,380 acres.
“One of the standout conservation easements for 2013 was the 118 acre Morris-Tata Farm,” said Rex Linville, Land Conservation Officer for The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC). “Not only is this property important because of its scenic location just north of Stanardsville, but the landowners have been part of the Greene County community for many generations, and this easement is a wonderful way to preserve the family’s legacy of land stewardship.”
In 1979, Jessie Jean Morris, known as “J.J.” to his friends, left his farm on Madison Road in Greene County to four nieces and one nephew with the stipulation that they were to give it to the youngest of their children. Morris wanted some way to protect the farm. “Back then, we didn’t know anything about conservation easements,” said Jeraldine Tata, Morris’ niece. Tata is the current and sole owner of the farm because she was able to purchase her relative’s interests. As a way of honoring her uncle and his wishes for the farm, Tata placed a permanent conservation easement on the property with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.
When asked why she preserved the family property, Tata remarked, “We are a Greene County family.” She continued to explain,“I did this because I wanted to protect our family heritage and the beautiful and picturesque countryside of Greene County.”
“The property has about 3,000 feet of farmland along the road, and it really is the start of that transition from leaving town to entering the rural countryside,“ said Linville. “Passersby that appreciate a scenic landscape can continue to enjoy the farm’s beauty because of Mrs. Tata’s conservation efforts.”
In total, conservation easements in Greene County now protect over 45 miles of streams and rivers, more than 3,110 acres of prime farming soils, over 6,700 acres of forests and 1,165 acres in the viewshed of the Appalachian Trail. These resources make Greene County a great place to live, and they are fundamental to the local and state economies. A recent study by The Piedmont Environmental Council found that nine environmental benefits — such as recreation, farm products, and water quality — contribute around $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, which includes Loudoun, Clarke, Fauquier, Culpeper, Madison, Rappahannock, Orange, Albemarle and Greene counties. PEC also accepted the donation of 141 acres of fee-simple property in Loudoun County in 2013.
“The landowners’ love for their land and their community was once again proven by another strong year of land conservation in the Piedmont,” said Heather Richards, PEC’s Vice President for Conservation and Rural Programs. “The dedication of these landowners who have provided an incredible gift of permanent conservation to their community should be applauded by all who live in the area. 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.”
PEC is an accredited land trust, promoting private, voluntary land conservation in Virginia’s northern Piedmont since 1972. In PEC’s nine-county region, nearly 11,600 acres were protected by conservation easements in 2013 by various non-profit organizations and government agencies. This brings the total acreage of land under conservation easement to 369,240 acres in the region. In Greene County, PEC holds four easements, which protects 343 acres of land.
PEC works with numerous conservation partners, including The Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the Virginia Department of Forestry and the Blue Ridge Foothills Conservancy, to protect land in the Piedmont.
*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) to permanently protect natural and cultural resources on their land.