Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: November 26, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Announces Land Conservation Grants to Protect 17,000 Acres

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced $5.89 million in Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) grants, which will fund a total of 19 conservation projects and protect more than 17,000 acres of land across the Commonwealth.

These VLCF grants will be used by private land trusts, local governments and state agencies to acquire and project significant lands in the following categories: farmland, forestry, historic resources, natural areas, and parks and open space.

“These 17,000 acres of newly-conserved lands will generate tremendous benefits for the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “We are protecting our precious natural resources, building resilience to climate change, and ensuring Virginia remains a great place to live, work, and visit.”

The VLCF board is composed of 19 members that are appointed by the governor, the Senate Committee on Rules and the speaker of the House of Delegates. The board includes the Secretary of Natural Resources, who serves as chair, and the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.

“These grants will help protect biodiversity, farms and forests, open space, and cultural and historic resources,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “By incorporating our cutting-edge ConserveVirginia initiative into the VLCF grant-making process, we are ensuring our limited resources go to protecting the Commonwealth’s most valuable and beautiful lands.”

Grant applications were reviewed and scored by an interagency workgroup that recommended projects to the board, which approved the awards on Nov. 22. Administrative support for the VLCF is provided by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

"Thanks to the hard work of state staff, land trusts, local governments, and other visionary land conservationists, we have been able to fund a fantastic slate of projects this round," said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. "One exciting property is the Stanley Land and Lumber site in Charlotte County, which is on track to become Virginia's 26th State Forest and will be managed to internationally-recognized sustainability standards by the Virginia Department of Forestry." 

In June, Governor Northam announced a change to the VLCF scoring criteria that aligned it with ConserveVirginia, a new data-driven land conservation initiative, and added additional criteria that focuses on water quality improvements. Among the projects receiving grants, 89 percent are located within ConserveVirginia designated areas.

“VLCF has selected a diverse and impressive group of projects from across the Commonwealth,” said DCR Director Clyde Cristman. “The Department of Conservation and Recreation looks forward to supporting these projects and protecting our natural resources.”

The following table provides the project name, requesting organization, a brief description and VLCF funding amounts for the approved grants.

Note: The dollar figures given reflect only the state grant amount and not the total cost of the project.

Farmlands
Project name Location Requesting organization Grant Amount Description

Farmland at Crossroads of Old Fredericksburg Road

Culpeper County

Piedmont Environmental Council

$300,000

This project will permanently protect the conservation values of 348-acre Madden Farm, located in the Chancellorsville Battlefield Study Area, with an NRCS Agricultural Land Easement co-held by the Piedmont Environmental Council and Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District.

Smithfield Farm

Clarke County

Clarke County Conservation Easement Authority

$121,875

A permanent conservation easement on the farm will protect 73 acres of soils identified as prime, 1.2 acres of unique farmland and 121 acres of important farmland. In addition, the easement will protect a 0.6-mile riparian area along the EPA-designated impaired waterway, Long Marsh Run. The property is a certified Century Farm with structures listed on the Virginia and National Register of Historic Places, with several structures listed as contributing to the Long Marsh Rural Historic District, and public views from Virginia Scenic Byway State Route 603.

Forestlands
Project name Location Requesting organization Grant Amount Description

Stanley Land and Lumber

Charlotte County

The Conservation Fund

$300,000

Located at the confluence of Roanoke and Wards Ford Creeks, the Stanley Land and Lumber project will protect 4,944 acres of unparalleled forest habitat through the creation of a new State Forest. The Conservation Fund recently acquired the property and is holding it until funding becomes available to transfer the land to the Virginia Department of Forestry for long-term stewardship and management as Virginia’s 26th sustainably managed state forest. The property provides a unique snapshot of Virginia forest types and includes loblolly pine plantings, significant mature hardwood stands and native mixed-pine stands, as well as more than 900 acres of forested wetlands that provide waterfowl habitat.

Eastern Shore Forest Conservation Initiative

Accomack & Northampton counties

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

$292,287

DGIF seeks a grant to assist in acquiring, conserving and improving forestland through its Eastern Shore Forest Conservation initiative. This proposed multi-tract fee-simple acquisition presents outstanding opportunities to expand existing Wildlife Management Areas, facilitate natural marsh migration, support coastal resiliency, provide new public lands for wildlife-related recreation, and improve habitat for migratory birds and species of greatest conservation need in an area of hemispheric importance.

Historic Resources
Project name Location Requesting organization Grant Amount Description

Red Hill

Charlotte and Campbell counties

Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation

$600,000

The foundation is seeking a grant to place an open-space easement on 596 acres at Red Hill Plantation located in Brookneal, Virginia. Red Hill, the home of Virginia’s first governor, Patrick Henry, is open to the public 362 days per year. It is the site of an annual U.S. naturalization ceremony held on Patrick Henry’s birthday, as well as a public Fourth of July celebration. The property contains high value prime farmland, first-generation hardwoods, and a slave cemetery containing 147 identified graves, and structures that include the former governor’s original law office, original restored slave quarters and a reconstructed blacksmith shop present on the plantation at the time of Patrick Henry’s death. Red Hill fronts on the State Scenic Staunton River as well as the potential State Scenic Falling River. Red Hill is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Historic Register, and was named a National Memorial in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.

Cedar Run Tract at Cedar Mountain Battlefield

Culpeper County

American Battlefield Trust

$412,500

The trust seeks to preserve the 86-acre Cedar Run Tract at the Cedar Mountain Battlefield. This project will protect the rural character of the Cedar Mountain Battlefield (a Priority I.2, Class B battlefield), scenic James Madison Highway and associated farmland, all of which are prioritized in the ConserveVirginia initiative. In addition, the project will preserve 52 acres of open and agricultural fields, 34 acres of forest, 2,600 feet of streams (including frontage on Cedar Run), over 2 acres of wetlands and a half-acre pond.

Natural Areas
Project name Location Requesting organization Grant Amount Description

Crow's Nest Southern Boundary Addition

Stafford County

Northern Virginia Conservation Trust

$256,000

NVCT intends to purchase the 110-acre parcel immediately adjacent to the heronry, dedicated in 2018, within the preserve and to likewise dedicate it to DCR as an addition to Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve. Once acquired, the property will be managed by DCR as part of the preserve, which would allow public use.

Piney Grove Vernal Pools

Sussex County

The Nature Conservancy

$367,000

TNC hopes to acquire 350 acres of forestland and grant an open-space easement over 115 acres of adjacent land on TNC’s Piney Grove Preserve to DCR to establish a new, 465-acre state natural area preserve. TNC’s Piney Grove Preserve comprises one of the largest blocks of fire-maintained southern pine savanna in Virginia and supports one of just two breeding populations of the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker in the state. TNC and state conservation agency partners will restore pine savanna habitat on the tract to facilitate growth of the red-cockaded woodpecker population in support of range-wide recovery efforts for the species. This acquisition will ensure permanent protection of four vernal pools on the tract that support populations of several state-rare amphibian species.

Bush Mill Stream Natural Area Preserve Addition

Northumberland County

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

$130,500

DCR’s Natural Heritage Program intends to purchase approximately 39 acres as an addition to Bush Mill Stream Natural Area Preserve. The tract is included in ConserveVirginia under the Natural Habitat & Ecosystem Diversity and Protected Landscapes Resilience categories. The subject property fills a critical biodiversity conservation need by protecting one of the top two highest quality examples of bog fern known in Virginia. In addition, the parcel lies directly upstream and shares a contiguous boundary with the preserve, providing a protected riparian buffer to the wetlands within the preserve and to the tidal wetlands of the Wicomico River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve Additions

Stafford County

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

$186,000

DCR’s Natural Heritage Program seeks to acquire two small adjacent parcels to Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve. The tracts, which total nearly two acres, fall within two categories of ConserveVirginia. Both parcels are located within one of Virginia’s essential conservation sites, as well as a mapped ecological core with the highest ranking possible in Virginia. The parcels will contribute to resource protection goals for the larger preserve. Both are vulnerable points that allow uncontrolled and illegal access to the preserve. Acquiring these lots enhances DCR’s ability to control and eliminate active and ongoing threats that include poaching, drug-related activity, off-road vehicle use and littering.

Cypress Bridge Swamp Natural Area Preserve Addition

Southampton County

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

$52,000

This project proposes acquisition of 18 acres to be added to the Cypress Bridge Swamp Natural Area Preserve. The tract falls within four categories of ConserveVirginia. The project and preserve are located in one of Virginia’s essential conservation sites, encompassing five different natural heritage resources deemed critical for biodiversity conservation in Virginia, including one irreplaceable element found nowhere else in the Commonwealth. The parcel is a key inholding at the preserve.

Bluebell Tract

Powhatan County

Capital Region Land Conservancy

$500,000

The tract encompasses approximately 1,410 acres and has been an actively managed forest for more than a half century. It was purchased in early 2019 by Longleaf Conservation Capital for the purpose of preserving forestland, implementing carbon sequestration, and establishing outdoor recreation and public access to the river. Plans are for an affiliated business to manage the recreational opportunities of the property for public access to the river. Given the scale of the project and significant inclusion of managed forests, CRLC sought the Virginia Department of Forestry as the easement holder. Approximately 565 acres of forestland on the Bluebell Tract are rated as having high conservation value by DOF.

Blackwater River Park and South Quay Natural Area Preserve

City of Suffolk

City of Suffolk Parks and Rec

$400,000

The city proposes to acquire an undeveloped 338-acre property adjacent to the Blackwater River. The property is also adjacent to South Quay Sandhills Natural Area Preserve. Upon acquisition, the city intends to subdivide the property and transfer approximately 200 acres to DCR to expand the preserve. The city intends to develop the remaining 138 acres into a public park with paddle craft access to the Blackwater River.

Gateway to Cape Charles Public Access

Northampton County

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

$237,888

This proposal is to support the purchase of land and existing improvements to provide permanent public access to a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk within the town of Cape Charles in Northampton County. An existing parking area and entrance trail, including several hundred feet of boardwalk, was constructed prior to the establishment of the Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve. These amenities have become a well-used visitor entrance, associated by the public with DCR, even though they are on private land. The land supporting these improvements, which directly adjoins the preserve, has been listed for sale, making protection of the site urgent. Federal funds were used for boardwalk construction, and federal matching funds will provide 50% of the estimated cost of this project. The 16-acre property would be added to the preserve, where visitors walk through one of the few remaining examples of globally rare maritime forest.

Parks and Open Space
Project name Location Requesting organization Grant Amount Description

Dock Street

City of Richmond

Capital Region Land Conservancy

$500,000

In the 1730s, William Byrd gave the city of Richmond its name due to the distinct appearance of the city along the river, reminiscent of Richmond upon Thames in England. The city purchased Libby Hill Park in 1851 to preserve open space and public access to this important view, which has remained largely unimpeded. The 5-acre Dock Street property, intended recently for an intensive development that would harm one of the most recognizable viewsheds in Virginia, is proposed for acquisition with the help of a VLCF grant. This acquisition would conserve the view from Libby Hill Park, enhance the well-used Virginia Capital Trail, complete the Richmond Riverfront Plan and connect with two city-owned parcels that are currently parks.

McThenia

City of Lexington

 Virginia Outdoors Foundation

$180,000

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation proposes to purchase an easement on 39 acres to allow public access along a trail to the Maury River. The property fronts the Maury for over 5,700 feet and has a natural beach-like area at the foot of the trail. It is across the river from the Chessie Trail, which is heavily used by the community and links Lexington to the Buena Vista area. The bluffs are also visible from State Route 631, which is part of U.S. Bike Route 76. The river at this location is a designated blueway and provides habitat for several endangered mollusk species. The entire property lies within the Lexington Barrens and Bluffs conservation site because of the limestone cliffs, sinkholes and barrens, and it also contains areas where a rare plant, the ThreeFlower melic grass (Melica nitens), has been found. The property contains several sinkholes that serve to capture most of the surface-water runoff in the upland portion of the property.

Wilderness Road Connectivity Property

Lee County

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

$500,000

This grant to acquire a 242-acre addition to Wilderness Road State Park will enhance environmental education, outdoor recreation, wildlife viewing, hiking and natural and cultural history opportunities for visitors to the park located in Ewing, Virginia. Additionally, this project would create an opportunity to develop connectivity with the Chadwell Gap Trail on the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, because the property is contiguous to both current park property boundaries. DCR identified connectivity from the state park to the trail system of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park as a priority in Wilderness Road State Park’s 2014 master plan update.

Pohick Bay Regional Park Inholding Acquisition

Fairfax County

Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority

$322,500

This is an opportunity to acquire three acres of land adjacent to the Potomac River that is part of a regionally significant conservation corridor. The land to be acquired is the last inholding within an existing 1,007-acre park that is protected under Land and Water Conservation Fund. The acquisition will provide public access to land that is currently privately owned and not protected, provide needed open space and passive park facilities in a densely populated area, conserve natural and historic resources, and protect the region’s watershed. The property has 250 linear feet of Potomac River shoreline with a forested riparian buffer. Thirty percent of the property is within a Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Area and 15% is within the Potomac River floodplain. The property has mature forest.

Camp Kum-Ba-Yah

City of Lynchburg

Virginia Outdoors Foundation

$201,134

Camp Kum-Ba-Yah Inc. intends to use a VLCF grant to help purchase from Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship Inc. (LCF) the 44-acre urban forest where its summer nature day camp is located and place it in an open-space easement held by VOF. Dense commercial and residential development are imminent if Camp Kum-Ba-Yah fails to purchase the property, which is currently for sale. The VLCF grant would help to save the urban forest, expand public access, and enhance the outdoor recreational and environmental programming that Camp Kum-Ba-Yah offers to thousands in Central Virginia. This area of the city is identified in the city’s comprehensive plan as a park desert. Camp Kum-Ba-Yah has a rich civil rights history from the 1960s, when Lynchburg closed its public pools to African-American citizens. Camp Kum-Ba-Yah continued to welcome both black and white citizens to swim in its pools. Today, Camp Kum-Ba-Yah offers scholarships to nearly 50% of its campers, fulfilling its motto that no child will be denied the gift of camp due to financial need.

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