The Piedmont Environmental Council’s Catoctin Creek Conservation Fund assists with the costs of conservation easements and land purchase transactions to protect the agricultural, historic, rural, and scenic character of the Catoctin Creek watershed in Loudoun County, Virginia.
An advisory committee, composed of local residents and PEC staff, helps identify properties; assists landowners; provides information to landowners about protecting their land; and supports agriculture through outreach and connecting landowners and farmers.
More About the Fund
Agriculture, forests, open space, and water resources in Loudoun face many challenges, often impacted by pressures from sprawling development. Land access becomes increasingly difficult for farmers as properties are sold, good soils are replaced with housing, and land prices go up.
As a way to proactively address these challenges, PEC, members of the community and the Catoctin Creek Scenic River Advisory Committee established the Catoctin Creek Conservation Fund in 2017.
One of the founding members, Eleanor Adams, was interested in starting the fund after she protected her family’s 243-acre farm with a conservation easement. She has lived on her farm in Waterford for over 50 years and throughout that time, she has seen the rural landscape both evolve and come under threat by lax land protection policies and developer interests. She learned that protecting special land takes more than heart… it also takes financial capacity and understanding. This is why a primary goal of the fund is to help relieve the burden of costs associated with protecting land through a conservation easement, along with providing outreach through gatherings and one-on-one meetings.
Conservation of the Catoctin Watershed’s rural landscape reflects important community goals and furthers state and local public policy by protecting water quality, promoting a vibrant rural economy, and preserving the natural, historic, cultural, scenic, and open space values that define Catoctin Watershed’s landscape and exemplify Virginia’s Piedmont region.
How the Fund Helps
- Conservation easement assistance:
- Financial assistance: The fund determines eligibility and amount on a case-by-case basis, so it encourages everyone to reach out to PEC and the committee members for more information.
- Support / mentoring: The fund’s advisory committee members provide more information about conservation easements to interested landowners.
- Hosting educational workshops:
- Conservation and land management workshops give landowners a chance to hear from PEC staff and our partner organizations about a wide range of conservation options.
- Agriculture workshops are focused on the in’s and out’s of leasing land as a landowner and farmer.
- Conservation 101 landowner gatherings:
- A landowner invites neighbors for a casual get-together to learn about conservation easements and cost-share programs. Neighbors share stories about their land, their hopes and ask questions throughout the gathering.
An Advisory Committee helps PEC staff to identify priority projects and properties, advise PEC staff on project and transaction selection and implementation, assist with fundraising, and make CCF funding recommendations to PEC staff and the PEC Board. The Advisory Committee is made up of no more than seven members and includes representation from the PEC Board and the Catoctin Creek Scenic River Advisory Committee.
- Eleanor Adams, founding member, Edge Hill Farm, Catoctin Creek Scenic Advisory Committee, Waterford
- Chip Planck, founding member, Wheatland Vegetable Farms, Wheatland
- Chris VanVlack, founding member, Hanging Rock Hay Farm, Farm Bureau, Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District, Lovettsville
- Patti Psaris, founding member, Catoctin Creek Scenic Advisory Committee, Loudoun
- Bruce Johnson, founding member, Catoctin Creek Scenic Advisory Committee, Taylorstown
Mike Kane, PEC’s director of land conservation, serves as the staff liaison between the advisory board and PEC. All projects require approval by the PEC Board of Directors.
- For information on protecting your property with an easement;
- To talk about all the options available to help cover costs;
- To speak with someone about your property and interests;
- To talk with landowners who have already protected their land and to learn first-hand about their experience;
- To see if the Catoctin Fund can help cover the costs of an easement;
- If you’d like to join and help the committee’s efforts.
Make a Donation
Contributions to the Catoctin Creek Fund are tax-deductible and will be limited to land conservation projects and activities within the Catoctin Creek watershed in Loudoun County. If you are interested in making a donation, please contact Director of Advancement Nora Seilheimer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (434) 977-2033 x7008.
The Piedmont Environmental Council manages 11 donor-designated funds created for on-the-ground conservation and restoration projects in specific geographic areas within PEC’s service territory. The majority of the funds are held by the Piedmont Foundation, a separate 509(a)(3) charitable organization, established to hold and manage special funds in support of PEC’s mission.
The conservation funds operate with an advisory committee that helps identify projects and provide information to landowners. These funds all provide cost assistance for protecting land with a conservation easement or through a fee simple purchase. They also offer short-term loans for landowners interested in working with their local soil and water conservation district on land management cost-share programs. For more information on the Catoctin Creek Fund or other PEC conservation funds, give us a call or email email@example.com.