The Virginia Outdoors Foundation views open-space preservation on private land as a partnership with landowners to promote livable, workable, and sustainable landscapes throughout the Commonwealth. Our stewardship program is responsible for making sure that the conservation goals stated in our easements are upheld in perpetuity. We take this responsibility seriously, and we accomplish our work by forging and maintaining strong relationships with our partner landowners.
Stewardship of open-space easements is a challenging endeavor that requires us to serve thousands of landowners on a wide range of complex legal and technical issues. Our highly trained and dedicated team of stewardship staff performs many duties to maintain the conservation values of protected properties. These duties include:
- Visiting conserved lands to ensure the easement provisions are being upheld;
- Utilizing remote and technological methods of monitoring easements to augment site visits;
- Answering landowner questions regarding stewardship or management of their land (wildlife management, forested lands, agricultural lands, riparian buffers, etc.);
- Conducting reviews and approvals for activities on the property (construction, subdivisions, harvesting timber, etc.) when required by the easement;
- Interpreting provisions in easement deeds for the landowner;
- Maintaining updated stewardship files on VOF easement properties;
- Tracking land records including changes in ownership, current tax assessments, building permits;
- Resolving easement violations.
We believe the key to successful stewardship is a partnership with landowners built on trust, transparency, accountability and flexibility. Personal values, best practices, and technologies change over time, and therefore we must constantly adapt to these changes while upholding the spirit of intent of the original easement donor. It can be a difficult balance, but our stewardship work ensures that the conservation values that we protect will remain available to future generations.