PEC Donates Land to National Park

Shenandoah National Park just grew a little bigger and a little more beautiful.

This past May, We donated a 17.2-acre property of ours in Rappahannock County to the National Park Service. A forested and vacant parcel on a mountain slope south of Sperryville, Virginia, the land is within the legislative boundary of Shenandoah National Park.

Carolyn Sedgwick near tree
Carolyn Sedgwick, PEC’s Rappahannock land conservation officer, stands at the border of 17.2 acres that PEC donated to the National Park Service. PEC worked with the land’s previous owners, who wanted their property to be a part of Shenandoah National Park. Photo by Jonathan Marquisee

“The property is surrounded by the park on three of its four sides, so it’s a key puzzle piece,” says Carolyn Sedgwick, PEC’s Rappahannock County land conservation officer, who oversaw the donation from PEC to the National Park Service. “This great public-private partnership with the National Park Service has resulted in the expansion of one of the most important wildlife corridors on the east coast.”

The donated acreage is by an area in the national park designated as federal wilderness — the highest conservation designation for federal land — making it an important and strategic area to conserve.

“This property is a wonderful addition, and we are grateful to PEC and the family [the previous owners] for wanting to see this property protected as part of Shenandoah National Park,” says SNP superintendent Jim Northup.

We were approached about the opportunity in 2012 when the former owners decided they wanted their property to be a part of the National Park. We later purchased the land at a significant “bargain sale,” thanks to funds raised locally through our Krebser Fund for Rappahannock County Conservation.

The Krebser Fund, a fund we manage specifically for Rappahannock County conservation projects, has a local advisory board composed of Rappahannock County residents who work with us to identify projects of high conservation priority and help raise funds for additional projects.

“The Krebser Fund is excited to see this deal completed and to have such a strategic and important parcel added to Shenandoah National Park,” says Nick Lapham, chair of the Krebser Fund advisory board. “The project is a perfect example of how the Fund can flexibly deploy its resources to assist willing parties in completing conservation deals for the benefit of Rappahannock and the public at large.”

Now that the property is officially part of Shenandoah National Park, “We hope to work with the Park Service on pursuing federal wilderness designation for the area,” explains Sedgwick. “Such designation requires an act of Congress.”

This article was featured in our Fall 2016 Member Newsletter, The Piedmont View.