Ridge View, Historic Farm, and Clean Streams
The nearly 2,300 acres of land protected in Albemarle County last year include several remarkable properties. A conservation easement on 220 acres of forest land on Dudley Mountain will preserve views from Charlottesville and Biscuit Run State Park. Another protected property, includes a mid-19th Century farmhouse, as well as 84 acres of scenic farmland adjacent to Route 29 south of Charlottesville. An easement on 120 acres of farmland along the Hardware River involved installation of approximately one mile of streamside fencing, to keep livestock out of the river, which benefits stream health and water quality. In addition, a number of landowners amended older conservation easements to increase the level of protection or the acreage protected.
200 Years in the Family, Now Protected Forever
Among the properties protected in 2011 was a 103-acre tract of highly productive farmland owned by Bev McKay, who runs a dairy operation there. This land has been in the McKay family for over 200 years. The easement, held by PEC and completed in partnership with the USDA, ensures that the land will continue to be available for farming, and protects scenic views from Red Gate Road and the Historic Long Branch House and Farm. It contributes to a block of over 8,700 acres of protected land in the Greenway Rural Historic District.
In addition, the Clarke County Easement Authority was a major conservation partner in 2011, completing seven easements. These projects included a 60-acre farm on the Shenandoah River and a 244-acre farm that connects to other conservation lands extending along a mile and a half of Pyletown Road, a State Scenic Byway.
Family Protects a Farm and a Forest
The lands protected in Culpeper last year include a working farm and a working forest that are both owned by Joseph and Constance Kincheloe. Birmingham Farm is a 292-acre working cattle and horse farm. The easement on this land protects its productive agricultural soils, as well as streams that flow into the Hazel River. The forested property, Morton’s Lane, lies within the Cedar Mountain Battlefield Study area, as designated by the American Battlefield Protection Program, and saw troop movement during the Battle of Cedar Mountain. This property is located near other private conservation lands, and it is also part of the Culpeper Basin Important Bird Area, a priority habitat for bobwhite quail and other grassland birds.
The View from Great Meadows
Over 3,150 acres were protected in Fauquier in 2011, including Fawnborough, a 218 acre farm directly across from Great Meadows. This conservation easement protects rolling scenery that is highly visible from Route 17, as well as the race course at Great Meadows, a major draw for visitors to Fauquier County.
Candice Hall, who owns the land, says, “For a lot of people who come in from the city and other places, this is the first part of Fauquier County that they see… We don’t know what’s going to happen in fifty or a hundred years when we’re not here, but we wanted the legacy of this piece of ground to be that it was protected, and that it’s beautiful.”
Last year’s conservation projects also include Al Mara, a 450+ acre working farm in Midland, which was protected through the county’s Purchase of Development Rights program. This property is comprised largely of cropland and pasture that supports a working, multi-generational family-run dairy operation.
The easements on both Fawnborough and Al Mara are held by Fauquier County—a strong conservation partner, which holds the easements on almost two thirds of the land protected last year, including both purchased and donated easements.
Large Block of Protected Forests near the Park
Last year’s conservation projects in Greene County include a cluster of six properties near Shenandoah National Park on and around Snow Mountain, totaling almost 750 acres. These easements are held by the Virginia Department of Forestry. The newly protected properties connect to a cluster of approximately 3,000 acres that are protected by conservation easements—substantially preserving scenic views from the Park and wildlife habitat in the foothills of the mountains. Altogether in Greene County, private conservation lands protect about 6,500 acres of forests, and 1,150 acres that can be seen from the Appalachian Trail.
Protecting Streams, Farms, History
More than 2,000 acres in Loudoun were protected last year, helping to preserve the resources that make Loudoun a great place to live and form the basis for a strong rural economy. Highlights from 2011 include an 800+ acre property near Hamilton, comprised of farmland and forests, with the easement held by The Nature Conservancy. Another notable conservation easement protects a 97-acre horse farm along Route 15 near Oatlands Plantation, preserving part of the historic landscape within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. Conservation easements in Loudoun now protect approximately 39,500 acres of prime farmland, 9,500 acres along Scenic Byways, and 6,500 acres in historic districts, and 215 miles of streams.
“This is My Legacy.”
A conservation easement on Hickory Hill Farm on Beautiful Run, in the heart of Madison County, protects 85 acres of fertile farm soils and almost 3,000 feet of stream frontage. Hickory Hill will continue to be open for farming forever, and will help to provide clean drinking water for thousands of people downstream.
Bob and Dani Bernard, who donated the easement, plan to retire on the land and enjoy its rolling hills, running water and distant mountain views.
Bob Bernard says, “I would not classify myself as an environmentalist in the strictest sense of the word, but I think that certain things need to be protected, because they’ll never go back… This is my legacy, I guess. I work in business and nobody’s going to remember five years from now what I did today… but forty years from now, some people may be glad that this 85 acres is open land.”
Hickory Hill is one of four easements that PEC accepted this year, in our expanded role as a full-service land trust.
A Wide Array of Benefits
More than 1,300 acres were protected in Orange last year. Among the highlights is Beaupre Farm, located between Gordonsville and the Town of Orange—a 217 acre tract including pastures for cattle and retired horses, a small vineyard, wetlands, bottomland forest that nurtures significant biodiversity, and two perennial streams. Another remarkable conservation project is Berrybrook Springs, a 206-acre property on the slopes of Mount Sharon, which includes pastures, woodlands, steep slopes, a tributary of the Rapidan River, and an 1858 farmhouse. The largest easement recorded in Orange in 2011 was Sylvania Farm, a 469-acre horse farm, which is highly visible from public roadways, including Mount Sharon Road and Route 628.
Spectacular Scenery, Safe from Development
One of the notable properties protected in Rappahannock last year was the Atkins family’s 236-acre farm, which was conserved through the Rappahannock County Farmland Preservation Program—preserving both productive working lands and scenic open space. Two additional easements, one located in Harris Hollow and the other in the F.T. Valley, offer significant protection for Rappahannock’s scenic resources. Both properties are visible from Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive. In addition they help preserve views from the Town of Washington and the F.T. Valley Road, respectively. Altogether, private conservation lands in Rappahannock County include over 10,200 acres along Scenic Byways and 7,300 acres that are visible from the Appalachian Trail.