Virginia’s Piedmont achieved major conservation milestones in 2008, and we applaud the PEC for its important work. Below you’ll find some important snippets from the PEC’s latest newsletter- The Conservation Edition. Sign up for the PEC’s excellent, free newsletters— choose your preferences– and you can stay informed on the topics that matter to you:
The Piedmont achieved a major conservation milestone in 2008, as the total amount of land protected by conservation easements crossed the 300,000 acre mark. Last year, Piedmont landowners permanently protected more than 14,000 acres of land, which brings the total to nearly 307,500 acres. That comes to 14% of the total land, in addition to public lands, which comprise another 4%.
As the 150th anniversary of the Civil War begins, private land conservation has protected 12,000 acres of battlefields in the Piedmont, including portions of three battlefields in 2008: Aldie, Brandy Station and Rappahannock Station. In the summer of 1863, Gen. Lee’s army was marching up the Shenandoah Valley, on its way to Gettysburg. On the other side of the Blue Ridge, in Loudoun County, Union and Confederate troops fought over roads that led to gaps in the mountains. If the federal troops could cross those gaps, they could attack Lee’s army.
When floodwaters severed the road into the Graves Mill valley in 1995, Keith Wagner was stranded on the other side with his five-year-old son-separated from the rest of his family and from the 1,500 acre farm that he was responsible for managing. Because of Shenandoah National Park, the roads through Graves Mill don’t connect to other roads. The main road and its offshoots trace the river valley, climb a short way up the slopes of the mountains and end, at the forest’s edge. Other people in Mr. Wagner’s situation hiked in over Blakey Ridge, but Mr. Wagner, who was recovering from a badly broken leg, couldn’t do that.
Two Rappahannock farms that are prominent producers of local food were protected by conservation easements in 2008. Manfred Call went through the county’s Purchase of Development Rights program to protect Muskrat Haven Farm while Nick and Gardiner Lapham donated a conservation easement on Sunnyside Farm to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. “I think everybody has a responsibility to steward their land,” says Mr. Call.