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State agencies that protect land

There are many agencies in Virginia with land conservation roles. Many are qualified to accept land or easements from landowners, and they carry out a wide variety of land conservation programs. The agencies include:

Government entities qualified to accept land for conservation purposes include those having authority to acquire land for a public use, or any county or municipality, any park authority, any public recreational facilities authority, any soil and water conservation district, any community development authority, or the Virginia Recreational Facilities Authority.

Click below for information about particular agencies' land conservation programs.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) mission is to conserve, protect, enhance and advocate the wise use of the Commonwealth's unique natural, historic, recreational, scenic and cultural resources. As such DCR is among the agencies authorized to acquire by gift or purchase areas, properties, lands or any estate or interest therein, of scenic beauty, recreational utility, historical interest or biological significance for the use, observation, education, health and pleasure of the people of Virginia.

DCR's Virginia Natural Heritage Program

Website: www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/
Contact: Jason Bullock, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 600 E. Main St., 24th Floor, Richmond, VA 23219, (804) 786-7951, jason.bullock@dcr.virginia.gov

The Virginia Natural Area Preserves Act provides DCR the authority to establish and manage a system of dedicated state natural area preserves to conserve Virginia's biological resources. Under the NAPA, DCR is responsible for identifying and maintaining a database on the state's natural heritage resources, as well as protecting and managing them. DCR has established and manages the preserve system on both public and private lands. The system contains 63 preserves totaling nearly 56,000 acres. View this list of Virginia's Natural Area Preserves.

"Dedication" means the transfer to the Commonwealth of an estate, interest, or right in a natural area to become part of the State Natural Area Preserve System. DCR's director may accept the dedication of natural areas on lands deemed to qualify as natural area preserves. Once dedicated, a natural area preserve shall be managed in a manner consistent with continued preservation of the natural heritage resources it supports.

Virginia Land Conservation Foundation

Click here for website.
Contact: Sarah Richardson, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 600 E. Main St., 24th Floor, Richmond, VA 23219, (804) 225-2048, email sarah.richardson@dcr.virginia.gov.

The Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) is a grants program, providing grants to state agencies,local governments and land trusts for acquiring fee simple title to or other rights, interests or privileges in real property for the protection or preservation of

  • ecological, cultural or historical resources
  • lands for recreational purposes
  • lands for threatened or endangered species, fish and wildlife habitat, natural areas
  • significant agricultural and forestal lands
  • open space

The VLCF administers the Virginia Land Conservation Fund. DCR helps administer, manage and protect VLCF's lands.

Virginia Outdoors Foundation

Click here for website.
Contact: Brett Glymph, Virginia Outdoors Foundation, 39 Garrett St., Warrenton, VA 20186, (540) 347-7727, emailbglymph@vofonline.org

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) holds conservation easements on more than 760,000 acres in 106 localities. (The easements held by VOF are sometimes called open space easements because they are held by a government entity.) The easements protect various natural resources, including watershed areas, settings for historic homes, scenic views, lands adjacent to public parks and game preserves, and more.

Virginia Department of Forestry

Click here for website.
Contact: Michael Santucci, Virginia Department of Forestry, 900 Natural Resources Dr., Charlottesville, VA 22903, 434-220-9182,mike.santucci@dof.virginia.gov

One of the Virginia Department of Forestry's (DOF) primary goals is to conserve Virginia's forestland base. Thousands of acres of forestland are lost each year to urban and other development. DOF manages more than 50,000 acres of state forestland and helps other state agencies manage state-owned forestland. The agency's mission is to "protect and develop healthy, sustainable forest resources for all Virginians." This statement indicates the agency's dedication to conserving "working forests" that provide forest products, wildlife habitat, water quality protection, recreation opportunities and aesthetic benefits. DOF professionals work with private, non-industrial landowners, localities and other stakeholders to conserve, manage and protect Virginia's forests. Contact Department of Forestry at 434-220-9182 to learn more.

The DOF implements the federal Forest Legacy Program, which aims to protect and conserve important forests threatened by conversion to non-forest uses, such as development.

Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Click here for website.
Contact: Virginia Department of Historic Resources, 2801 Kensington Ave., Richmond, VA 23221, (804) 367-2323, ext. 137

For easements and rehabilitation tax credits: Elizabeth Tune, Manager, Office of Preservation Incentives, 804-482-6093, elizabeth.tune@dhr.virginia.gov
For the Civil War Sites Preservation Grant Program: Catherine Slusser, Policy and Planning Director, 804-482-6083, catherine.slusser@dhr.virginia.gov

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) is the state's historic preservation office. Its mission is to foster, encourage and support stewardship of Virginia's significant historical, architectural, archaeological and cultural resources.

Founded in 1966, Virginia's Historic Preservation Program allows historic landmarks to remain in private ownership and on local tax rolls while simultaneously ensuring that the historically significant aspects of these landmarks will be preserved forever. Protected resources range from colonial mansions to archaeological sites to commercial buildings.

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Click here for website.
Contact: Andy Sorrell, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 102 Governor St., Richmond, VA 23219, 804-786-1906, andrew.sorrell@vdacs.virginia.gov

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) promotes economic growth and development of the state's agriculture, encourages environmental stewardship and provides consumer protection.

VDACS' Office of Farmland Preservation has developed a model purchase of development rights (PDR) program localities might use in developing their own PDR programs.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Click here for website.
Contact: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 7870 Villa Park Drive, Suite 400 (Villa Park 3), Henrico, VA 23230, (804) 367-1000

A fundamental goal of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is wildlife habitat management. VDGIF's 41 wildlife management areas, comprising more than 203,000 acres, provide a rich variety of wildlife habitat suitable for hunting and fishing as well as viewing wildlife, unique plant communities and spectacular scenery. In addition to habitat management on its property, VDGIF professionals share with other state agencies, schools, private citizens, farmers and corporations the technical know-how in restoring and preserving habitat. The agency offers various programs, information, workshops, publications and technical assistance on land management and conservation. Learn more by contacting VDGIF's wildlife staff at (804) 367-1000 or visit http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/.