Purcellville Records Largest Easement in Loudoun County

The Town of Purcellville has formally filed its agreement with the Virginia Outdoor Foundation (VOF) to place 1,271 acres of land in the Blue Ridge Mountains adjacent to the Appalachian Trail and west of Hillsboro into a conservation/open-space easement. The property includes a significant portion of the watershed above the J.T. Hirst Reservoir, three springs and the reservoir itself. The reservoir provides nearly one-half of the drinking water for the town.

“I am proud of the Council taking action to protect our reservoir and its watershed,” said Purcellville Mayor Robert W. Lazaro, Jr. “The Town has a proactive environmental record including holding an easement on a ten-acre stream valley property and placing an historic easement on our Fireman’s Field property. This latest easement is the largest easement in Loudoun and the first by a municipality in Loudoun.”

“I congratulate the Town of Purcellville for their foresight to protect the watershed for its drinking-water reservoir,” said Governor Timothy M. Kaine. “This conservation easement is remarkable, and it demonstrates the significant leadership role local governments can play in preserving open space. The town’s decision will help protect local drinking water and maintain the area’s natural beauty for generations to come.”

The easement was filed with the Loudoun County Clerk of the Court on April 22, which is Earth Day.

This conservation easement is the largest granted in the Loudoun County and the first by a municipality in Loudoun County. A conservation/open-space easement is a legal document made between a landowner and a public body, such as the VOF. The easement limits present and future property development. It allows the property to be used for its traditional use, e.g., as a farm, forest, open space, and/or natural area, but protects it as well. The easement is legally recorded and bound to the deed of the property permanently.

“While the majority of easements donated to VOF are from private landowners, this project is a great example of how municipalities, too, can take advantage of the Commonwealth’s unrivaled land conservation programs,” said VOF Executive Director Bob Lee.

This donation brings the total land under easement with VOF in Loudoun County to 24,117 acres — ranking it 6th in the state. It also adds to the 330,000 acres protected so far during Gov. Kaine’s administration, which has a goal of protecting 400,000 acres by 2010. Nearly 75 percent of the land protected to date has been through VOF easements.

Jason McGarvey is VOF's communications and outreach manager. He is based in the Richmond office.