The Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) recorded 70 open-space easements in 41 counties and cities in 2018. The 15,928 acres of newly protected land includes VOF’s first easements in the cities of Alexandria and Richmond. Ten of the projects require permanent public access to the land. These projects received about $1.3 million in funding from the foundation’s Preservation Trust Fund and include the following:
- Hansborough Ridge in Culpeper County, a Virginia Historic Landmark and part of the Civil War Brandy Station Battlefield
- The Hottel Keller Homestead in Shenandoah County, site of the Shenandoah Germanic Heritage Museum
- Hazel Hollow, an 11-acre tract that will provide greenway access to the New River in Pulaski County
- The historic garden adjoining the Murray-Dick-Fawcett House in the City of Alexandria
The remaining projects were mostly donated easements on privately owned, working landscapes. Open-space easements allow landowners to restrict future residential and industrial development on their land, while continuing compatible uses such as farming and forestry.
Because of the public benefits of open space such as improved water quality and wildlife habitat, easement donors are eligible for federal and state tax benefits.
VOF now protects more than 835,000 acres of open space across Virginia. These lands help to protect more than 4,200 miles of streams and rivers, 237,000 acres in ecologically significant landscapes, 386 miles along designated scenic roads and rivers, 333 miles of threatened and endangered species waters, and 147 miles along designated hiking and biking trails. Since being established by the General Assembly in 1966, VOF has preserved open space at a rate of nearly two acres every hour. About 95 percent of all Virginians live within 10 miles of VOF-protected land.