56,697 acres of open space protected by VOF in 2013

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation conserved 56,697 new acres of open space in 2013 — its fourth-greatest year ever. VOF recorded nearly 200 easements in 62 localities, including a 7,312-acre easement in Halifax County that protects one of the largest contiguous private properties in Virginia east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The property has nearly 10 miles of frontage along the headwaters of the John H. Kerr Reservoir, and the Dan, Bannister, and Hyco rivers.

Speaking about the achievement, Governor Bob McDonnell said, “I want to commend the Virginia Outdoors Foundation for their dedication to preserving open space across Virginia for future generations to enjoy. 2013 marked a landmark year for the Foundation as they saw their fourth-largest amount of acres preserved. Over the last four years, the combined efforts of private landowners and land trusts, together with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Department of Historic Resources, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Department of Forestry have worked to protect thousands of acres of the Commonwealth. To assist with future preservation efforts I was pleased to include $4 million in my final budget in addition to the $6 million we previously provided for this important effort.”

VOF protected nearly 150,000 acres during the McDonnell Administration. VOF now protects about 725,000 acres across 106 localities — an area nearly the size of Rhode Island.

Additionally, during the McDonnell Administration, the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, administered by DCR, awarded over $4.5 million for matching grants funding 29 projects across the Commonwealth, to conserve over 4,300 acres. The Department of Historic Resources acquired 75 preservation easements totaling 6,819 acres, of which, 49 easements protected 6,314 acres of Civil War battlefield land. Approximately half of this battlefield land was conserved as a result of nearly $4 million in grants through the Civil War Sites Preservation grant program. Also included is an easement on the historically significant Werowocomoco, the location of Paramount Chief Powhatan’s village.

A projected 230,000 acres of land are expected to be permanently protected during the McDonnell Administration. The final tally is expected to be completed in a few weeks.

“The balance of acres comes from other agencies, private land trusts, and a small number of acres selectively acquired by the state to add to state parks, natural area preserves, wildlife management areas, state forests, and historic sites,” said Virginia Natural Resources Secretary Doug Domenech. “These acres contribute to the environment, historic and natural resource education, and to the economy through tourism.”

“Thanks to the Governor’s support and continued commitment of citizens to land conservation, we are making sure that Virginians will have unspoiled landscapes and productive farmland and forests for generations to come,” said VOF Chairman Charles H. Seilheimer, Jr., of Orange.

“Demand for voluntary land conservation remains as strong as ever in Virginia,” added VOF Executive Director Brett Glymph. “The Land Preservation Tax Credit program continues to be the most effective and efficient tool in the nation for conserving open space.”

A breakdown of VOF’s acreage by locality can be found here.

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