Only the second locality in the state to reach such a milestone, Albemarle County surpassed 100,000 acres of land permanently protected by conservation easements! In 2018, an additional 1,055 acres were protected in the county, bringing the grand total to 100,629 acres.
“This conservation success is the effort of many different individuals, land trusts and public agencies, over the span of 40 years,” says Chris Miller, PEC President. “Thank you to all of the families that make conservation in Virginia such a great community effort!”
Albemarle County Board of Supervisor member, Ann Mallek, is a part of one such family who made land conservation a priority.
“Local non-profit partner organizations have contributed significantly to the 100,000 acres under conservation easement in Albemarle. Our family, my parents, siblings and now my grandchildren, benefited from the assistance of two partners, The Piedmont Environmental Council and Virginia Outdoors Foundation, who brought our family farm easement into being in 1998,” says Ann. ”Conserving our farm was a natural progression from establishing the Jacob’s Run Agricultural Forestal district, ten years earlier. Albemarle landowners are so lucky to have PEC and VOF representatives living and working in our community to guide these processes along.”
Over the years, Ann and other members of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors have been instrumental to the county’s land conservation success through their support of the Acquisition of Conservation Easement Program. The program began in 2000, and it has protected approximately 10,000 acres by providing a financially attractive way for lower income landowners to protect family farms. Additionally, the county created the Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority, which holds a significant number of both donated and purchased conservation easements in the area.
“One of the key factors behind the conservation in Albemarle is the strong desire of rural landowners to protect the countryside and the collaborative effort of various organizations working in the region,” says Rex Linville, field representative for PEC.
In 2015, Fauquier County was the first in the Commonwealth to reach 100,000 conserved acres. The success in Albemarle and Fauquier, and throughout Virginia, is driven by exceptional tax benefits for conservation easement donors, along with available local, state and federal funding for landowners who are not in a financial position to protect their land with a donation.
“If a landowner is interested in conservation, it is likely that there is a program to help them preserve their land,” says Rex.
In total, conservation easements in Albemarle have protected approximately:
- 437 miles of streams;
- 1,347 acres of wetlands;
- 5,094 acres adjacent to scenic rivers;
- 37,195 acres of prime farmland soils;
- 68,004 acres of forests;
- 26,912 acres along scenic byways;
- 20,486 acres in the viewshed of the Appalachian Trail; and
- 41,188 acres in historic districts.
This article was featured in our Spring 2019 member newsletter, The Piedmont View.