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Governor McAuliffe announces $2.25 million in Virginia land conservation grants

virginiaGovernor Terry McAuliffe announced on Friday 14 Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) grants totaling $2.25 million. The grants will help add 2,000 acres to Virginia’s conserved lands.

VLCF grants are used by private land trusts, local governments, and state agencies to protect and acquire special lands in the following categories: farmlands and forestry, historic areas, natural areas, and open spaces and parks. The grants require a minimum of a 50 percent match and many grant awardees provide more than that. The projects approved represent more than $13 million in public and private money going to land conservation across the state. As a result, the VLCF program leverages approximately four times the amount of funding than it awards in grants.

“The VLCF board has selected a great mix of grant awardees with projects that will protect wildlife habitat, green space, public recreation opportunities and more. Ensuring the Commonwealth’s natural beauty is crucial to building the new Virginia economy,” Governor McAuliffe said. “I’m extremely proud that the Commonwealth can assist with the funding of these critical projects.”

“Many of the projects funded through VLCF grants will also help the Commonwealth reach its goal for the Virginia Treasures initiative,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “Our goal is to record 1,000 recreational and land conservation treasures during Governor McAuliffe’s time in office. I’m proud to be a part of team that helps build the new Virginia economy”

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 board includes the Secretary of Natural Resources, who serves as chair, and the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation provides staff to the foundation.

The following list provides the project name, requesting organization and VLCF funding amount for the 14 approved grants.

Editor’s note: The dollar figures below reflect only the state grant amount and the total cost of the project.


Farms and Forest Preservation          
Project name Location Requesting organization Grant amount Description Acres
Highwater Farm Fauquier County Fauquier County Agricultural Development Department $72,500 This grant is for the purchase of development rights and placement of a conservation easement on a beef cattle farm that includes 60 acres of pine woodlands. Protection of this property within the 19,000-acre Southern Fauquier Agricultural and Forestal District helps accomplish a major goal for the county’s purchase of development rights program. The project will include vegetated buffers along 4,000 feet of streams in the Rappahannock River watershed. 181.65
Seven Islands Easement Fluvanna County James River Association $110,000 This grant will support the purchase of a conservation easement to preserve riparian areas, protect and enhance water quality, protect wildlife habitat and threatened native wildlife species, and maintain at least 75 percent of the land as a sustainable forest resource. The property is located between two publicly accessible wildlife management areas and on a stretch of river that has been found to qualify for state scenic-river status. 360
Jones Farm Easement II Stafford County Stafford County $130,000 This grant will provide funds to purchase a conservation easement on 43 acres of farmland. The Jones Farm consists of 13 acres of active farmland and 24 acres of forestland. Sixty-eight percent of the property is prime farmland with statewide important soils. A 35-foot wide vegetative buffer protects approximately 2,600 feet of streams and wetlands. The property has more than 500 feet of public-road frontage and well-drained soils, which make it subject to significant development pressure. 43
Ridley Farm Easement Southampton County Virginia Department of Forestry $250,000 This grant funds the partial purchase of a conservation easement that will protect 567 acres containing 185 acres of swamp-bottomland hardwoods with old-growth tupelo-bald cypress swamp and nearly 20,000 feet of frontage on the Nottoway River. The property is a working farm with 130 acres of prime farmland currently under intensive agricultural use. The swamp and bottomland hardwoods lie within the larger Cypress Swamps Conservation Site, designated by the Virginia Natural Program, and will be protected from timber harvesting. The project will help establish an effective buffer to the Cypress Bridge Natural Area Preserve directly across the river and preserve the viewshed of a designated state scenic river. 567
Historic Resources          
Boxerwood Easement Rockbridge County Boxerwood Educational Association $50,000 This grant will help cover the partial cost of a conservation easement on the 14-acre Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden. The property contains a historic house that is listed on the national and Virginia historic registers. The easement will be held by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The nature center is open to the public as an outdoor classroom to support educational programs in Rockbridge County, Lexington and Buena Vista school systems. 14.56
Gaines Tract Amelia County Civil War Trust $87,500 This grant will cover the fee-simple purchase of core area within Sailor’s Creek Battlefield. The April 6, 1865, Battle of Sailor’s Creek led to the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse just 72 hours later. Acquisition of the tract will enable the removal of modern buildings and allow the land to be incorporated into Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historic State Park. 1.1
Natural Areas          
The Cedars Natural Area Preserve Additions Lee County Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation $221,700 This grant will be used to purchase additional land for The Cedars Natural Area Preserve. The Cedars region is one of the most biologically diverse places in North America. Within this roughly 50-square-mile area, 224 occurrences of rare plants and animals, significant terrestrial communities, biologically significant caves and freshwater communities have been documented by scientists with DCR’s Natural Heritage Program. Throughout the region, key tracts are continuously at risk of being converted to intensive uses, such as residential development. Properties targeted for protection here will lead to restoration of parts of the landscape that have been converted to incompatible uses. 90
Protection of Flatwoods at Piney Grove Preserve Sussex County The Nature Conservancy $69,655 This grant will be used to acquire forested land adjacent to TNC’s Piney Grove Preserve. Ownership by TNC will ensure protection of future red-cockaded woodpecker nesting and foraging habitat and involve reintroduction of fire to restore the pine savanna habitat for numerous fire-dependent species. The hydrology of the seasonal ponds and surrounding hydric soils will be preserved. 32
Fee-Simple Acquisition by Cheroenhaka Indian Tribal Heritage Foundation Southampton County Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Heritage Foundation Inc. $271,145 This grant will be used to protect lands adjacent to property already owned by the Cheroenhaka Tribe and adjacent to the DCR-owned Cypress Bridge Natural Area Preserve. The property will be put under an easement of natural area dedication held by DCR’s Natural Heritage Program. Approximately 10 acres of the property is native bottomland forest, and most of the remainder is upland planted with loblolly pine. The applicant has proposed to harvest the pine forest and replant it with native Virginia longleaf pine to restore the upland into a longleaf pine savanna through selective thinning and prescribed fire. Protection of the property will serve as an important buffer to the natural area preserve and prevent incompatible industrial or commercial development. 170
Parks and Open Space          
Springdale Regional Park Acquisition Loudoun County Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority $300,000 This grant will help to acquire land with approximately 2,080 linear feet of frontage on the Potomac River. The property, which also fronts on U.S. Route 15, includes more than 7,000 linear feet of streams and nearly 16 acres of wetlands. The project is within the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. The property will become a regional park offering recreational uses such as hiking, wildlife observation, fishing and picnicking. 149.51
James River Conservation Area Chesterfield County Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation Department $302,000 This grant will assist in the purchase of land fronting 4,600 linear feet of the James River at the confluence with Falling Creek. The property, just north of Drewry’s Bluff National Battlefield Park, is planned as park with walking, biking, nature observation and boating facilities. The project will serve as a major segment of the James River Linear Park and Trail. 109.87
Aspen Grove Farm New Kent County Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries $62,500 This grant will help DGIF acquire the Aspen Grove property to protect significant nesting, staging and wintering habitat for migratory birds and habitat for threatened and endangered species. The purchase of Aspen Grove Farm will enable public access to the adjacent Ware Creek Preserve owned by DGIF. 85
West Woods Frederick County Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation $123,000 This grant will help SVBF purchase additional acres for Third Winchester Battlefield Park, a 572-acre block of contiguous protected land that is open to the public. The project will help protect a wildlife corridor and historic site from planned commercial development. 31
Ditchley Farm Northumber-land County Virginia Outdoors Foundation $200,000 This funding will help VOF purchase a conservation easement on the property known as Ditchley. The waterfront property near Kilmarnock has significant agricultural, historic and recreational features. The easement will ensure public access to tidal shoreline areas and the Chesapeake Bay and permanently protect the property from intensive residential and commercial development. Plans include providing recreational access to Dividing Creek, which is directly across from Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve and 2 miles from the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay. Public access opportunities in this area are scarce. The project also will help protect 117 acres of prime agricultural soils. Ditchley is a productive farm that has been in continuous cultivation for 400 years. 162