Eleanor Weston Brown (Chair)
City of Hampton
Viola O. Baskerville
City of Richmond
Thomas G. Slater, Jr.
Brett Christina Glymph Executive Director
Anna Chisholm Director of Administration
Leslie Grayson Deputy Director of Policy and Acquisitions
Martha Little Deputy Director of Stewardship
Tamara Vance Deputy Director of Easements
The Virginia Outdoors Foundation is Virginia’s leader in land conservation, protecting more than 850,000 acres in 111 counties and cities. VOF was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1966. Today, we receive both public and private support for our work. VOF protects a wide variety of open spaces, from farms and forests to parks and historic landscapes. We work with federal, state, local, and private conservation organizations to achieve our mission.
The Code of Virginia defines VOF’s mission under § 10.1-1800, which states:
“The Virginia Outdoors Foundation is established to promote the preservation of open-space lands and to encourage private gifts of money, securities, land or other property to preserve the natural, scenic, historic, scientific, open-space and recreational areas of the Commonwealth. The Virginia Outdoors Foundation is a body politic and shall be governed and administered by a board of trustees composed of seven trustees from the Commonwealth at large to be appointed by the Governor for four-year terms.”
In 1965, the Virginia Outdoor Recreation Study Commission produced Virginia’s Common Wealth, “an analysis of the present and future outdoor recreation demands on the Commonwealth, an inventory of the State’s recreation resources and facilities … [and] a long-range comprehensive plan of action, The Virginia Outdoors Plan, to meet these demands.”
The commission was chaired by Senator FitzGerald Bemiss, who wrote in the introduction, “The rich and varied resources of the Virginia Outdoors are indeed our Common Wealth, and every Virginian justly expects to enjoy its benefits…. The opportunities for enjoyment are severely limited by inadequate facilities and by a threatened and diminishing supply of enjoyable lands and waters.”
The report included 21 recommendations that became the basis for the Virginia Outdoors Plan, which remains the state’s comprehensive plan for land conservation, outdoor recreation and open-space planning. It called for expansion of the State Park system, formation of the Scenic Byways system, creation of the Historic Landmarks Commission, and adoption of a legal framework for expanded protection of open space and recreational opportunities.
The report’s authors also recognized the potential of citizens to contribute to these efforts through private philanthropy. To facilitate such philanthropy, the commissioners recommended—and the General Assembly approved in 1966—establishment of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.
Five decades later, the commission’s work has yielded amazing results. The number of State Parks has more than doubled, nearly 3,000 miles of scenic byways have been designated, and nearly 3,000 historic landmarks have been registered. For its part, VOF has preserved approximately 860,000 acres of open space—roughly two acres every hour. Today, VOF’s portfolio is among the largest and most diverse in the nation, protecting everything from working farms to urban parks to historic battlefields to critical habitat. We now work in 110 of Virginia’s 133 localities. Approximately 95 percent of all Virginians live within 10 miles of VOF-conserved land.
VOF receives an appropriation from the General Assembly to hire its first Executive Director, William T. Bolger, a 38-year-old planner with the State Commission on Outdoor Recreation.
VOF experiences it first real surge of easement donations, quadrupling its portfolio and finishing the year with 2,729 acres under its stewardship.
VOF completes acquisition of roughly 2,500 acres from the Natural Area Council in the Bull Run Mountains, becoming the crown jewel in VOF’s portfolio of conserved lands.
VOF accepts a bargain sale of roughly 600 acres in Prince William County from the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company, which it later transfers to the Division of State Parks to become Leesylvania State Park.
VOF acquires an option to purchase land in Lancaster County that eventually becomes Belle Isle State Park.
VOF transfers 257 acres in New Kent County to the Virginia Department of Forestry to become Crawfords State Forest.
After a 15-year, $1.5-million restoration effort driven largely by private contributions, VOF begins offering public access to historic Aldie Mill in Loudoun.
VOF protects its 100,000th easement acre.
The General Assembly establishes the Open-Space Lands Preservation Trust Fund to help with the costs of conveying an open-space or conservation easement. VOF is charged with administering the fund.
The Virginia Land Conservation Incentives Act of 1999 is adopted, making gifts of “land or interest in land located in Virginia” eligible for a state income tax credit after January 1, 2000.