Fauquier last year protected 2,541 acres, Loudoun 1,174
Landowners in Rappahannock County in 2017 protected 327 acres for future generations, including two land parcels north and west of Sperryville, two north and east of Flint Hill, one in Castleton, and one in the furthest northeast corner of the county along the Rappahannock River.
The addition of 327 acres last year brings the total amount of Rappahannock land placed in conservation easements to an impressive 32,744 acres.
Comparably in 2017, according to data compiled by The Piedmont Environmental Council, Albemarle County protected 775 acres (99,574 total acres) in conservation easements, Clarke County added 308 acres (25,247 total), Culpeper County 317 acres (18,917 total), Fauquier County 2541 (104,873 total), Loudoun County 1174 acres (57,549 total), Madison County 126 acres (15,887 total), and Orange County 669 acres (35,961 total). No land was preserved in Greene County in 2017, where a total of 10,488 acres are in conservation easements.
Combined, 6,237 acres were protected by landowners last year in the nine-county PEC region, bringing the total to 401,200 acres.
“Conservation easements help protect our local food supply, secure sources of water for the future, provide areas for wildlife habitat and preserve important historic and cultural sites,” said Chris Miller, the president of PEC. “People love the rural character of the region and protecting the land is a way for them to take action and ensure that future generations will enjoy the same benefits.”
An easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a land trust (such as a public agency or a non-profit conservation group like PEC) to permanently protect natural, scenic and cultural resources on their land.
“The success of conservation in the Piedmont reflects the appreciation hundreds of families and other landowners have for this region, which is demonstrated through a true commitment to the long-term protection of the resources that make this a special place,” added Michael Kane, director of Conservation at PEC.
“Fortunately, through programs like Virginia’s Land Preservation Tax Credit, there is a set of financial incentives that make it possible for landowners across the state to act on their love of the land through the donation of a conservation easement,” he said.
In total, conservation easements in the nine counties have protected approximately: 1,658 miles of streams; 9,839 acres of wetlands; 26,217 acres adjacent to scenic rivers; 189,965 acres of prime farmland soils; 189,265 acres of forests; 107,303 acres along scenic byways; 120,916 acres in the viewshed of the Appalachian Trail; 126,637 acres in historic districts; and 29,447 acres of Civil War battlefields.