Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced 23 Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) grants, totaling $6.42 million, to support projects that will help shield 7,037 acres of at-risk land from development.
VLCF grants are used by private land trusts, local governments and state agencies to protect and acquire significant lands in the following categories: farmland, forestry, historic resources, natural areas, and parks and open space.
“These grant recipients include a great cross-section of important conservation opportunities, and I am very pleased with the choices made by the VLCF board,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The projects selected protect Virginia’s biodiversity, history and way of life while enhancing public access to our natural resources. We will continue to support innovative land conservation efforts to ensure that Virginia’s greenspace remains healthy and vibrant for future generations.”
The VLCF board is composed of 19 members appointed by the Governor, the Senate Committee on Rules and the Speaker of the House of Delegates. The board includes the Secretary of Natural Resources, who serves as chair, and the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.
“VLCF’s support is critical to conservation projects across the Commonwealth,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “These grants will help preserve Virginia’s special places for generations to come.”
Grant applications were reviewed by an interagency workgroup before being passed, with recommendations, to the foundation’s board. Administrative support for the VLCF is provided by the Virginia Department of Conservation.
“I am happy that the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Commonwealth’s leading conservation agency, can help with such important work,” said Clyde Cristman, Director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. “These projects will benefit all Virginians and help achieve the goals of the Virginia Outdoors Plan.”
The following list provides the project name, requesting organization, a brief description and VLCF funding amounts for the approved grants.
Note: The dollar figures given reflect only the state grant amount, not the total cost of the project.
|Project name||Location||Requesting organization||Grant Amount||Description|
|Farmland Protection Along the Rapidan River||Orange County||Piedmont Environmental Council||$250,000||This grant request is to fund partial purchase of a conservation easement on Glenmary Farm, a 367.7-acre grain, turkey and beef farm that includes 166 acres of prime or statewide important soils and 80 acres of forest located in Rapidan in Orange County. The project is a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) co-held by the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) and the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District. Protection of this property will: enhance water quality with approximately 12,772 linear feet (2.4 miles) of permanent vegetated riparian buffers along the Rapidan and several tributaries; conserve the scenic rural context of Mount Pleasant / Lessland, a historic site listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and Clark Mountain, a strategic signal post and command headquarters used during the Civil War; and provide visual access to the property from 1.4 miles of frontage along Rapidan River and River Road (State Route 636). The property is contiguous with a block of more than 3,200 acres of previously conserved land along the Rapidan River as it sweeps around the base of Clark Mountain.|
|Flintshire Farm||Caroline County||The Conservation Fund||$400,000||This grant request is to fund partial purchase of a conservation easement on Flintshire Farm, 353 acres of active farmland, scenic riverfront and wetlands. The property has been owned by the same family since 1666 and has been identified locally by the Fort A.P. Hill Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program as a priority for conservation due to its proximity to army facility. The easement will protect nearly 160 acres of prime farmland with an active agricultural operation, more than 2 miles of frontage on the Rappahannock River and its tributaries, 70 acres of forested wetlands, and scenic views from designated scenic byways and the Capt. John Smith National Historic Trail. Water quality will be protected with approximately 11,000 linear feet of permanent vegetative buffer along the Rappahannock River and other tributaries.|
|Valley Pike Farm||Rockingham County||Valley Conservation Council||$200,000||The grant request is for the purchase of development rights and placement of a conservation easement on a 151-acre family farm with productive agricultural soils, wildlife habitat, and scenic views from U.S. Highway 11 and Interstate 81. The easement will be held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. Valley Pike Farm Inc. is in Rockingham County and is a Virginia Century Farm that has been in continuous ownership and operation by the same family for more than 100 years. This will protect nearly 100 acres of prime and statewide important soils currently producing soybeans, barley, corn, sweet corn and hay along with grazing beef cattle on pasture lands.|
|Pleasant Grove Easement||Fluvanna County||Virginia Department of Forestry||$230,000||The easement will protect more than 4.5 miles of watercourses with permanent forested buffers, including wetlands on the property. A quarter of the property and a number of structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.|
|Flowers Easement||Southampton County||Virginia Department of Forestry||$250,000||The grant request is to fund partial purchase of a conservation easement that will protect 845 acres of forest and farmland. The property contains more than 1.5 miles of frontage along the Nottoway River. The stretch is part of a state-designated Scenic River. The project contains 690 acres of forestland under active management and 155 acres of land in agricultural use. The easement will protect more than 3 miles of watercourses with permanent forested buffers, with 286 acres of predominantly tupelo/cypress wetlands along the river. The property will contribute significantly to the corridor of connected, interagency conserved lands that continue to be protected along the river in this area as it lies within the larger DCR Natural Heritage-designated Nottoway River – Three Creek Stream Conservation Unit (SCU), and is immediately downstream of the DGIF Cary’s Bridge public boat ramp.|
|Wingfield–Cosby Acquisition||Louisa County||Virginia Department of Forestry||$170,412||The grant request is to support the fee-simple purchase of 572 acres of forestland in Louisa County as a new state forest. In addition to providing local outdoor recreational opportunities, the property is within an hour of Richmond, Charlottesville and Fredericksburg. Once initial basic infrastructure improvements are made, the property will be fully available to the public for all forms of outdoor recreation, meeting the “most-needed goals” identified for this area in the Virginia Outdoors Plan. The property is entirely forested, 94 percent of which is considered high forest conservation value and all of which is to be protected as a state forest. In total, the property contains approximately 1 mile of streams that flow into the Long Creek-Little River SCU, which will be protected by permanent forested buffers.|
|Goosepond Easement||Dinwiddie County||Virginia Department of Forestry||$125,000||The grant request is to support the partial purchase of an open-space easement on 955 acres of primarily forested land in Dinwiddie County. The 931 acres that are forested are classified by VDOF as having high forest conservation value and are under active management. Seventeen acres are in agricultural use, the majority containing soils classified as Prime Farmland or Farmland of Statewide Importance. The easement will protect nearly 2 miles of streams with permanent forested buffers, including about 40 acres of wetlands present on the property. DCR’s Natural Heritage Program staff has confirmed the presence of the state-threatened barking tree frog (Hyla gratiosa) and its habitat on the property, which will be protected by habitat protection areas. The project will support the Virginia Outdoors Plan by protecting DCR-NH resources in “the most biologically diverse region along the fall line.”|
|Bucks Elbow Mountain Easement||Albemarle County||Virginia Department of Forestry||$125,000||The grant request is to support the partial purchase of an open-space easement on 263 acres of forested land near Crozet in western Albemarle County. All of the land is classified as having high forest conservation value by VDOF, and two globally rare natural communities occur on site. It contains approximately 1,700 linear feet of headwater streams of Powell Creek. The property is highly visible from publicly owned parks in the area.|
|Malvern Hill Farm||Henrico County||Capital Region Land Conservancy||$687,500||The grant request is for the fee simple acquisition of approximately 524 acres in Henrico County containing prime farmland, forested cover with a high level of forest conservation value, roughly 7,000 linear feet of streams and a portion of the James River-Turkey Island Creek Stream Conservation Unit. The property lies within the core and study area of the Civil War Battle of Malvern Hill (1862) and is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places. A 10-acre portion of the property will become a canoe-kayak launch into Turkey Island Creek, which will provide public access to this estuary of the James River and the adjacent Virginia Capital Trail, Presquile National Wildlife Refuge and Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.|
|Historic Murray-Dick-Fawcett House||City of Alexandria||City of Alexandria||$900,000||The grant request is for the fee simple acquisition of a 0.3-acre lot on Prince Street in Old Town Alexandria, containing an historically significant 18th century timber frame and brick dwelling distinguished by its relatively unaltered state of preservation and high degree of integrity. The property is a contributing resource to the Alexandria Historic District, which is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior in 1966. The Murray-Dick Fawcett House is also adjacent to the Washington-Rochambeau Route and was one of the few buildings in existence in the area during the time of the American Revolution. As one of the largest open space or garden areas in Old Town Alexandria, the lot will become public open space. Protection of the property will preserve a nationally significant architectural and cultural resource while promoting heritage tourism and providing full public access to an urban green space in the downtown core.|
|The Cedars Natural Area Preserve Addition||Lee County||Department of Conservation and Recreation||$317,711||DCR’s Natural Heritage Program will use grant funds to purchase in fee approximately 150 acres as an addition to The Cedars Natural Area Preserve in Lee County. The Cedars region is a focal area for DCR due to the extraordinary biodiversity significance of the region’s natural heritage resources. The parcel is the largest remaining unprotected tract identified as a conservation priority in the region. The tract includes 6,170 feet of frontage on the Powell River, which supports the most significant freshwater diversity in North America. In addition, recent surveys by DCR personnel confirm the property supports several rare plant species, natural communities, and cave and karst features. The outstanding conservation values of the property are at risk from impending logging and potentially expanded agricultural uses.|
|North Landing River Sawgrass Marsh||City of Virginia Beach||The Nature Conservancy||$150,000||The Nature Conservancy will use grant funds to assist with the purchase of an easement on approximately 1,275 acres of wetlands on the North Landing River within the city of Virginia Beach. This project will close the last unprotected gap along more than 13 miles on the western side of the river. Since the earliest days of the Natural Heritage Program, this watery landscape – which is home to four globally rare natural communities and more than a dozen rare plant and animal species – has been a target for conservation by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and DCR. The property has about 700 acres of open marsh and 575 acres of tidal cypress-water tupelo swamp. The easement will be held jointly by TNC and DCR, and will be dedicated as part of North Landing River Natural Area Preserve.|
|Redrock Mountain Natural Area Preserve Addition||Smyth County||Department of Conservation and Recreation||$151,200||DCR’s Natural Heritage Program will purchase in fee 98 acres as an addition to Redrock Mountain Natural Area Preserve. This project will connect the Preserve with the nearby Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area and secure an inholding in one of Virginia’s most significant contiguous forested landscapes. In addition, the project will protect a portion of the red siltstone cliff for which the mountain and the preserve are named, as well as four associated rare plant species and two rare natural communities.|
|Cowbane Wet Prairie Natural Area Preserve Addition||Augusta County||Department of Conservation and Recreation||$877,050||DCR’s Natural Heritage Program will acquire in fee approximately 84 acres along the South River and adjacent to Cowbane Prairie Natural Area Preserve. The subject property is within a mapped Conservation Site, which has the highest possible biodiversity ranking of B1. This high ranking is due to the high number of rare species and significant natural communities found there, as well as the high viability and the extreme rarity of some of those elements. Fifteen rare plants and five globally rare communities are found within the preserve, and most of these populations require periodic burning to remain healthy. Protecting the property will serve as a smoke buffer for the prescribed burning necessary on the adjacent preserve. Such protection will also prevent further degradation of water quality to the South River by securing the riparian zone along more than 4,100 feet of the river and tributary streams.|
|Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve Addition||Floyd County||Department of Conservation and Recreation||$39,550||DCR’s Natural Heritage Program will buy in fee six acres in Floyd County as an addition to Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve. Although a relatively small acquisition, this tract will nonetheless be an important addition to the preserve, which is an increasingly popular public recreation destination and one of the most important scenic resources in the region (according the Virginia Outdoors Plan). Visiting natural areas and hiking are among the fastest growing sectors of nature-based outdoor recreation across Virginia. Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve accommodates both. By acquiring this key tract of private land with frontage on the Buffalo Mountain access road, multiple conservation, recreation and visual goals can be met. The proposed acquisition will support continued public access to the existing preserve, help maintain a scenic entrance into it and further protect more of the outstanding biodiversity that epitomizes Buffalo Mountain.|
|Parks and Open Space|
|Eastern Branch Restoration Park||City of Virginia Beach||Living River Restoration Trust||$141,525||The Living River Restoration Trust (LRRT) obtained VLCF funding to acquire an 8.8-acre tract on the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River. Located in Virginia’s most populated city, Virginia Beach, the site is threatened by development. In partnership with Virginia Beach, the property will become a nature park with a kayak launch and hiking trail. The kayak launch will provide direct access onto the Eastern Branch Elizabeth River Water Trail, part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network. Protecting this parcel from development ensures the integrity of the scenic view along the water trail and from Carolanne Farms Park, located just across the river. Once the property is developed as a park, LRRT will donate the property to Virginia Beach.|
|Cypress Locks||City of Virginia Beach||City of Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation Department||$165,000||Virginia Beach obtained VLCF funding to complete acquisition of a17-acre tract of land situated along the North Landing River. The tract will be developed by the city as a gateway park for canoe and kayak access to the North Landing River, a state-designated scenic waterway with more than 10,000 acres of conserved lands encompassing 15 miles of river shoreline. The project will help meet public recreation and resource conservation needs identified in the Virginia Outdoors Plan and 2016 City of Virginia Beach Comprehensive Plan.
More than 1 million people live within 20 miles of the property.
|Eagle Rock Park||Botetourt County||Botetourt County||$72,000||Botetourt County received VLCF funds to buy a 6-acre parcel along the James River near the town of Eagle Rock. Once acquired, the county will provide a loop trail, camping facilities, swimming, and fishing and boating access.|
|Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve Phase III||Stafford County||Stafford County||$433,000||Stafford County will purchase four parcels totaling 127.72 acres on the Crow’s Nest peninsula adjacent to the Potomac Creek heron rookery and approximately 1,800 feet from Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve. Once acquired, the property will be conveyed to DCR for inclusion in the natural area preserve. Acquiring this property will result in the protection of 121 acres of forest land, 6,400 feet of streams and wetlands, 12 historic resource sites, wildlife habit, the federally listed Small Whorled Pogonia and the Potomac Creek heron rookery. It will also allow for expansion of the hiking trail network developed within the existing natural area preserve.|
|Charley Close Land Acquisition||City of Charlottesville||City of Charlottesville||$82,600||VLCF assistance is being provided to acquire a 2.783-acre parcel along Moore’s Creek near Jordan Park (1607 Sixth Street S.E.) in Charlottesville. The property represents one of the last undeveloped parcels in this area of the city and is now divided into six buildable lots. Surrounding properties have been developed into subdivisions. The city desires to purchase the property because it will allow for a key link in the city’s developing trail network and includes a link to the existing Rivanna Trails, which is a designated National Recreational Trail.|
|Pigg River Water Trail Viewshed Protection, Public Access and Riparian Buffer
|Town of Rocky Mount||Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation||$449,650||DCR will receive VLCF assistance to acquire a 36-acre tract adjacent to the Pigg River and Bald Knob Natural Area Preserve. Once acquired, DCR will partner with the town of Rocky Mount to develop the property for nature-based outdoor recreation, with a small parking area and walking trail through grassland and forest. In addition to recreation, the purchase of the property will ensure scenic integrity of the Pigg River, a potential scenic river and the designated Pigg River Water Trail.|
|Indian River Watershed Project||City of Chesapeake||City of Chesapeake||$182,500||The city of Chesapeake proposed the fee simple acquisition of a 2.023-acre parcel in the Indian River watershed to be developed as a public park. Numerous local plans identified an urgent need for open space and water access for the public in the Indian River Watershed. There is now no public access in the watershed. Other proposed developments for the new park include facilities for fishing, picnicking and wildlife observation.|
|Dalton’s Landing Canoe Launch Site||Town of Altavista||Town of Altavista||$23,313||VLCF assistance will obtain a recreation easement on a 1.5-acre property to provide a public water access site for fishing and canoeing. Once acquired, the site, which will be known as Dalton’s Landing, will serve as the beginning of an approximate 7-mile water trail on the Staunton River (Roanoke River) that will end at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries boat ramp at Altavista’s English Park, which received VLCF funding in 2009. The need for public access to the Staunton River was identified in the 2002, 2007 and 2013 Virginia Outdoors Plans.|