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(Released by Governor's Office)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: November 20, 2003
Governor Warner and Virginia Outdoors Foundation celebrate conservation milestone
230,000 acres now held in permanent conservation easements
AYLETT, Va. -- Governor Mark R. Warner today joined legislators, agency heads and conservation-minded landowners to celebrate the Virginia Outdoors Foundation surpassing the 225,000 milestone in conservation easements held. Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William J. Howell and Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources W. Tayloe Murphy, Jr. were among the leaders joining the Governor at today's event on a 535-acre King William County family farm called "The Meadow."
Conservation easements limit in perpetuity development that can occur. State and federal financial incentives, including tax credits, are available to landowners placing property under permanent easement. The Foundation, which in 1968 received its first easement of 102 acres in Goochland County, now holds more than 230,000 acres in permanent easements on more than 1,300 properties.
"Conservation easements are one of the most effective ways
of preserving our rural landscapes, managing development and protecting Virginia's
water quality," Governor Warner said. "For 35 years, the Virginia
Outdoors Foundation has been the state's leader in working with landowners to
promote these easements."
Owned since the 1830s by the Gwathmey family, "The Meadow" is one of the latest properties to be protected and the first in the state to use Forest Legacy funds to acquire easements. Funds from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation were also used. The legacy program is managed by the Virginia Department of Forestry; the conservation foundation is administered by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
In addition, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation coordinated wetland
restoration, planted stream bank buffers and acres of hardwoods on the property.
"Landowners who recognize the value of conservation easements and voluntarily put an easement on their land remain the backbone of our program," said Frank Kilgore, chairman of the VOF board of trustees. "The Foundation is also working closely with state agencies and other conservation partners for funding to purchase permanent easements."
The Forest Legacy Program aims to protect and conserve important forests threatened by conversion to non-forest uses, such as development. The forestry department plans to focus most of its legacy efforts on purchasing conservation easements to enable conservation of the greatest amount of forestland.
In 1999, the General Assembly established the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation. Funds from the Foundation are used to establish permanent conservation easements and to purchase open spaces and parklands, lands of historic or cultural significance, farmlands and forests, and natural areas.
For more information on conservation easements and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, contact the Richmond office at (804) 786-0801, or visit www.virginiaoutdoorsfoundation.org.# # #