Governor McDonnell Announces Virginia Land Conservation Grants

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– Commonwealth Adds 1,642 Acres of Conserved Lands –

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell today announced 12 grants totaling $1.55 million dollars awarded by the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, a state land conservation board. The grants will help add 1,642 acres of working farms and forests, historic sites, natural areas, and parks and open space to Virginia’s conservation land base.

“These projects represent a wealth of opportunities for land conservation protecting a host of natural and historical resources across the Commonwealth,” said Governor McDonnell. “Preserving these lands also provides other benefits such as protecting water quality and, in some cases, providing public access for recreation.”

“Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grants are used by private land trusts, local governments and state agencies to protect special lands,” said Foundation Board Chairman, Doug Domenech, Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources. “We are especially pleased to announce that for the first time ever the foundation is funding an open space project in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District.”

“The foundation provides a great opportunity for Virginia’s agricultural community to conserve working farm and forestland,” said Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry and a member of the board.

The VLCF board is composed of 19 members appointed by the governor, the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections, and the speaker of the House of Delegates. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation staffs the foundation. Because the grants require a minimum of a 50 percent match, the projects approved represent at least $6.5 million in public and private money going to land conservation across the state. These funds were approved by the General Assembly during the 2012 session.

The following list provides the project name, partnering organization, and VLCF funding for the 12 approved grants:

Open Spaces and Parks Category

Belmont Bay Farm Phase I (Northern Virginia Conservation Trust)

This project will protect a 115-acre forested parcel, located on Mason Neck in southeast Fairfax County. The property is part of the last 400 acres of privately owned forest and farmland on Mason Neck and one of only two unprotected properties of this size remaining in Fairfax County. Surrounded by more than 6,500 acres of public lands and private conservation easements, the project provides a critical wildlife corridor, including habitat for bald eagle and numerous migratory birds. It protects several streams feeding Belmont Bay and the Potomac River, and provides a scenic view from Mason Neck State Park. NVCT plans to phase the protection of the rest of Belmont Bay Farm over the next several years, and intends to secure public access to Belmont Bay and public trails across the farm. Grant award: $247,906.

Historic Areas Category

Jackson House at Ball’s Bluff (Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority)

VLCF funds will support the fee-simple purchase of a 3.22-acre parcel within the Ball’s Bluff Battlefield. Protection of the parcel will protect the Jackson House, a key landmark around which the initial fighting and skirmishing took place. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority will add the parcel to Ball’s Bluff Regional Park, provide public access, and develop the Jackson House into a visitor and interpretative center. The parcel, which is adjacent to two existing parks and located in the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, will link federal, regional and local park lands. Grant award: $172,906.

Prillaman Farm/Gabriel Jones Farm (Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation)

VLCF funds will contribute to the purchase of an easement on the 92-acre Prillaman/Gabriel Jones Farm. The property is located within the core and study areas of the Port Republic Battlefield. It includes the house site of the original settler of the property Gabriel Jones and is next to the historic Bogota Farm, under easement with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. This project will conserve prime farmland as well as 800 feet of frontage on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River and 13 archaeological sites, and it will contribute to the 2,162-acre block of preserved battlefield farm and forest land in the Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive view sheds. Grant award: $101,475.

Chapman Farm (Clarke County Easement Authority)

VLCF funds will support the purchase of an easement on Chapman Farm, 140 acres located within the Cool Springs Battlefield in Clarke County. A portion of the farm is also located within the boundaries of the Cool Springs Battlefield Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Permanent protection of Chapman Farm will enhance Virginia Department of Historic Resources’ efforts to place easements on other large portions of the Cool Springs Battlefield, including the 195-acre Textron Tract and the 965-acre Holy Cross Abbey Tract. This project will also conserve prime farmland, forested cover of high conservation value and one-half mile of frontage on the Shenandoah River. Grant award: $98,604.

Crew House at Malvern Hill (Civil War Trust)

VLCF funds will contribute to the fee-simple purchase of a one-acre property in the Malvern Hill Battlefield in Henrico County, site of the last battle of the Seven Days’ Campaign. This project will protect the Crew House, a key feature of the 1862 battle as headquarters for U.S. Brig. Gen. George Morrell. The property is adjacent to the Richmond National Battlefield Park and lands protected by the Civil War Trust. The trust will provide public access and use the dwelling as a visitor and interpretative center. Grant award: $120,733.

Farmlands and Forestry Category

Messick Farm PDR Project (Fauquier County Purchase of Development Rights Program)

VLCF funds will support the purchase of a conservation easement on 408.3 acres in Fauquier County on the O.B. Messick and Sons dairy farm in Remington. The dairy farm includes both crop and pasture lands with more than 85 percent of the property as prime farmland or statewide important soils. The Messick Farm borders eight properties under easements, seven of which are under the Fauquier County PDR Program. In protecting the Messick Farm, a total of 1,605 contiguous acres will be in conservation easements. In addition, the farm property borders approximately one-half mile of the Rappahannock River with fencing to preserve the integrity of the river. Grant award: $98,953.

Moore & Dorsey – Dorsey Orchard Tract (Clarke County Conservation Easement Authority)

VLCF funds will contribute to the purchase of a 68-acre conservation easement on a farm in Clarke County that has been owned by Moore and Dorsey for more than 50 years. This farm and an additional 800 acres owned by Moore and Dorsey were recently converted to cropland from an apple orchard due to a downturn in the apple industry. The land is 100 percent prime statewide and locally important soils, and is located in the Long Marsh Rural Historic District. The farm also has implemented many best management practices including conservation crop rotation, high residue no-till and nutrient management. In addition, Mr. Dorsey will begin implementing a wildlife habitat plan on the farm next year, installing native warm season grasses, wildflowers and shrubs on portions of the farm. Grant award: $60,203 .

Sundance LLC (Virginia Department of Forestry)

The VLCF grant will help purchase a 206-acre conservation easement on forestland in Rockingham County. Most of the property is covered in working forests, all of which is classified as having high forest conservation value by the VDOF. The property contains approximately 5,600 feet of Little Dry River, a North Fork Shenandoah River tributary, and approximately 4,100 feet of Sugar Run, a principal tributary of Little Dry River. These streams contribute to the drinking water for Broadway, Timberville and New Market. Sixteen natural heritage resources have been identified within two miles of the property, including potential endangered wood turtle habitat along the Little Dry River. The property contributes to a large expanse of unbroken forestland bounded by the George Washington National Forest on three sides. Grant award: $150,703.

BLD Farms Rose Hill (Virginia Department of Forestry)

VLCF funds will go toward the purchase of a 250-acre conservation easement on forestland approximately one-half mile west of Drewryville in Southhampton County. Eighty-two percent of the property is covered in working forestland, almost half of which is classified as having high forest conservation value by the VDOF. The property includes approximately 3,500 feet of Three Creek and 1,700 feet of Nicholson Creek, tributaries of the Nottoway River, maintaining water quality for downstream communities that use the river as a drinking water source. The property is part of an area designated by DCR as the Three Creek Stream Conservation Unit because of its natural-heritage resources. Grant award: $60,953.

Natural Area Protection Category

Smooth Coneflower Habitat, Milton Part Two (Virginia Outdoors Foundation)

VLCF funds will assist VOF and DCR in purchasing an open-space easement and natural area preserve dedication on 165 acres of privately owned land in the Pedlar Hills area of Montgomery County. The easement will protect habitat for several rare plant species, including the federally threatened smooth coneflower, and the significant Ridge and Valley dolomite woodland natural community on the property. The property adjoins a 257-acre tract protected by open-space easement and deed of natural area preserve dedication recorded in October. Grant award: $169,250.

South Quay Natural Area Preserve Project, Phase II (The Nature Conservancy)

As the second phase of TNC’s South Quay conservation effort, VLCF funds will support a fee-simple purchase of a 94-acre tract, which is located as an inholding to a 2,900-acre parcel that will soon be under conservation by DCR. The tract supports eight state rare plant species including 70 acres of Virginia native longleaf pine seedlings planted in 2012. Protection of this tract is an important component in the larger strategy to protect the South Quay conservation site and to restore native longleaf pine sandhill natural communities in Virginia. Forest management and restriction of land development will protect water quality for the lower Nottoway’s rich freshwater mussel fauna and other aquatic resources. Grant award: $155,000.

Clinch River: Cleveland to Artrip Conservation Area (The Nature Conservancy)

VLCF funds will support the fee-simple purchase of 100 acres of land along the Clinch River in Russell County. This project will protect 1.8 miles of river frontage along the Clinch River, within the Clinch River – Little River Stream Conservation Unit, designated by DCR natural heritage staff as having outstanding biological significance. This purchase is part of an effort to protect a corridor for the important terrestrial and freshwater conservation targets found in this significant stretch of the Clinch River. This effort has been ongoing since 1990 to connect the state natural areas and Nature Conservancy preserves from the town of Cleveland to the Big Cedar Creek and beyond. Once acquired, these properties will be owned by The Nature Conservancy. Properties purchased with VLCF funding will be protected with an open space easement and deed of natural area preserve dedication. Grant award: $120,000.

Please note: The dollar figures given reflects only the state grant award and not the total cost of the project. Contact Gary Waugh at (804) 786-5045 for more details on projects and their funding.

Members of the Virginia Land Conservation Board include:

Secretary Doug Domenech, Chairman

Alexandra Liddy Bourne of Alexandria, VA, Vice-Chairman

David Johnson, Director DCR, Executive Secretary

Secretary Todd Haymore (Ex-Officio)

The Honorable Emmett Hanger, Jr. of Mount Solon, VA (Senate appointee)

The Honorable Jill Vogel of Winchester, VA (Senate appointee)

Mary Helen Morgan of Saluda, VA (speaker appointee)

L. Clifford Schroeder, Sr. of Richmond, VA (Speaker appointee)

Steven Apicella of Stafford, VA (Speaker Appointee)

Robert Beals of Midlothian, VA

R. Brent Blevins, Jr. of Alexandria, VA

Robert L. Davenport, Jr. of Manassas, VA

Margaret Davis of Center Cross, VA

Herbert Dunford of Henrico, VA

Ollie Kitchen, Jr. of Covington, VA

Anna Lawson of Daleville, VA

Bob Lazaro, Jr. of Purcellville, VA

Brooks Smith of Richmond, VA

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