VaULT 2020 Year-End Message
Thank you to our incredible member organizations and agency partners!
Virginia’s United Land Trusts is a membership organization. Our 22 member organizations and eight partner agencies stepped up in 2020. These projects demonstrate the variety and scope of work connected to land conservation in Virginia. This summary highlights projects large and small that had a big impact; profiles examples of how organizations adapted and provided a much needed service, report, or connection; and shows the continuation of important tasks such as stewardship, reaccreditation, and building organizational capacity. This year challenged us — often for the better. We look forward to collaborating with all of you in 2021 and continuing to broaden our collective work.
Wishing Everyone a Wonderful Holiday and Happy New Year! Looking forward to working with all of you in 2021!
VaULT Member Organizations:
American Battlefield Trust, Siting Solar in Virginia: Protecting Virginia’s Historic Landscapes While Meeting State’s Clean Energy Goals, The American Battlefield Trust, Cultural Heritage Partners and Preservation Virginia jointly released this report as communities across the Commonwealth grapple with the siting of solar facilities.
Black Family Land Trust, Ebonie Alexander receives 2020 McCarthy Award Leadership Award: Ebonie is distinguished by her skills and accomplishments in conflict resolution, specifically her work navigating the interests involved in garnering support for the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (UPHPA) and her career dedicated to advocacy on behalf of socio-economically underserved communities.
Blue Ridge Land Conservancy, officially expanded its service area to meet increased landowner demand in central and southern Virginia by merging with the Central Virginia Land Conservancy and creating the Southern Virginia Land Conservancy. BLRC’s service area now covers 16 counties and approximately 20% of Virginia’s landscape.
Capital Region Land Conservancy, 13-acre tract in South Side donated for future city park off Warwick Road. This is part of a larger effort to increase access to parks in the southside of Richmond.
Chesapeake Conservancy, The Streamside Program Report, developed by Chesapeake Conservancy for the Upper and Middle James Riparian Consortium launched. This online tool enables landowners to enter some basic information on their management objectives and receive a report on eligible programs to help implement conservation practices on their lands.
The Conservation Fund, Land Secured For Virginia’s Newest State Forest, “The creation of a new state forest on the Stanley land celebrates a long legacy of well-managed working forests,” said Heather Richards, Virginia state director for The Conservation Fund. “We are honored to assist the Commonwealth in the protection of these timberlands to support local forestry jobs, protect key wildlife habitat and provide new public recreational access for a variety of activities in Charlotte County.”
Ever Green Team, worked to meet the growing demand in Southside to promote conservation by educating landowners, holding conservation easements, and conducting environmental projects.
Friends of the Lower Appomattox, Land Purchase Protects Scenic Stretch of the Appomattox River, In partnership with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, FOLAR has purchased nearly five wooded riverfront acres along the Appomattox River in Petersburg and established a public conservation area.
Historic Virginia Land Conservancy, Accreditation renewed, “We are a stronger organization than ever for having gone through the rigorous accreditation renewal process,” says HVLC Executive Director Patrice Sadler. “Our strength means that special places – such as Mainland Farm, Church on the Main, York River Preserve, and many family farms – will be protected forever, making our cities and counties an even greater place for us and our children.”
Land Trust of Virginia, Protecting views and vistas in Loudoun and beyond: Land Trust of Virginia logs 200th easement, now totaling almost 23,000 acres across 18 Virginia Counties. LTV’s 200th easement is a 129-acre plot just north of Aldie and contains nearly 7,200 feet of streambed, 5.25 acres of wetlands and 72 acres of forest, housing expansive wildlife that is now protected from development.
Living River Trust, LRT preserves 500 acres of the Great Dismal Swamp! The Living River Trust set aside for permanent protection nearly 500 acres of forestland at the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in Chesapeake. The land is at the northern edge of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and will be incorporated into the Refuge.
The Nature Conservancy, Miller and Rovner: Virginia’s new flood-preparedness program is a statewide win. The Fund could generate as much as $40 million a year to provide funding for projects to protect communities from sea level rise and rainfall flooding. Nature-based strategies include buying repeatedly flooded properties and converting them into parks and greenways; installing living shorelines that can soften tidal surges and reduce erosion; and restoring streams and wetlands so they’re better able to absorb and contain stormwater.
New River Conservancy, received a $250,000 Virginia Environmental Endowment grant for its River Builder program to restore 1.5 miles of riparian buffers on streams in Craig, Montgomery and Giles counties. To date, NRC has restored over 105 miles of stream and river buffers, planting over 850,000 trees and shrubs throughout the New River watershed.
New River Land Trust, Poverty Creek Trails Coalition, Phase 1 of the Brush Mountain Trails Project is nearing completion. The contractor and volunteers built 2.3 miles of new multi-use trails on Property 1. With upgrades to the existing roadbed, there are now 5 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and running, minutes from downtown Blacksburg. Volunteers are now finishing up the trails by hand.
Northern Neck Land Conservancy, New Partnership Conserves Special Land in Northumberland, NNLC and TNC announced their new partnership to protect an ecologically-significant property in Virginia’s Northern Neck. NNLC secured an environmentally-sensitive, 225-acre site near Dameron Marsh in Northumberland County. Known locally as “Bayview,” the site has extensive Balls Creek and Chesapeake Bay frontage.
Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, Purchased and permanently protected an amazing 113-acre addition to our Potomac Creek Heronry! This nature preserve is directly adjacent to our existing Great Blue Heron Rookery at The Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford County. The habitat preserved and enhanced by this newly safeguarded wetland adds to the existing heron nesting grounds and supports stronger, more vibrant populations of the unique plant and animal species that call this amazing place home. Read the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star article.
Old Dominion Land Conservancy, Old Dominion Land Conservancy invests in the next generation of land conservationists by sponsoring a scholarship for students pursuing an education in an environmental field. Loudoun County Public Schools, page 10
Piedmont Environmental Council, Ovoka Farm joins Piedmont Environmental Council’s Farm to Food Bank initiative with 10,000 pound meat donation, PEC’s Farm to Food Pantry initiative began in May, when the organization learned of the Covid-19 pandemic’s impacts on both local dairy farmers and local food banks. Since then, the organization has raised philanthropic support, and partnered with the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association on packaging and delivery, to provide more than 20,000 gallons of locally-produced milk to 19 food pantries in the northern Piedmont. This summer the initiative was expanded to provide ground beef to local food banks.
Potomac Conservancy, Received a Virginia Environmental Endowment grant to support its “Northern Shenandoah Valley Priority Lands Project” which seeks to enhance access to and affordability of family land conservation.
Trust for Public Land, The Heat Is On, national overview of the heat island effect in our cities and the disproportionate impact on minority communities, and the power of parks to address some of those inequities.
Valley Conservation Council, 9 Donated Easements; 8 Easements in Progress; 13.5 Miles of Rivers and Streams Permanently Protected; 2,550 Acres Protected with an Agricultural Forestal District; 3,418 Acres Permanently Protected; Thanks for loving this Valley as much as we do and standing together with us to protect her. Love, John, Emily, Maya, Genevieve, and the VCC Board of Directors.
Virginia Eastern Shore Land Trust, read about how VESLT and other partners adapted and helped provide Outdoor, place based learning for elementary students and families.
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Governor Northam announced revised guidelines this spring to better equip the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund Planning Grant program to function as a resource for local governments seeking to assist their agricultural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes included expediting the review and award process for applications that address challenges related to the public health crisis and expanding the types of eligible match to allow localities to utilize additional funding sources.
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Scenic Rivers Program 50th Anniversary Wrap-Up Celebration, The Virginia Scenic Rivers Program’s intent is to identify, designate and help protect rivers and streams that possess outstanding scenic, recreational, historic and natural characteristics of statewide significance for future generations. DCR closed on 20 natural area and state park tracts this year, adding significantly to Virginia’s conservation lands in a time when so many are desperate to bask in Virginia’s natural places.
Virginia Department of Forestry, Land Secured For Virginia’s Newest State Forest, DOF and The Conservation Fund announced the protection of 2,531 acres of working timberland near the town of Drakes Branch. The land will ultimately become part of Virginia’s 26th state forest, Charlotte State Forest, and the first publicly accessible state land in Charlotte County.
Virginia Department of Health, Outdoor Partners for Community Health & Wellness, Leading the way on cross-sector coordination to address opportunities and barriers of accessing outdoor space, including trails, parks, and greenways as a way to improve health and health equity.
Virginia Department of Historic Resources, DHR partners with American Battlefield Trust on a 33-acre easement. VPM News. This property is significant for its role in the Civil War, particularly the actions of the United States Colored Troops (the official name given to the Army’s African American soldiers) during the Battle of New Market Heights. In 1865, the U.S. government recognized the sacrifices of the USCT at New Market Heights by awarding Medals of Honor to 14 black soldiers for their individual acts of heroism during the battle.
Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, DGIF is now the Department of Wildlife Resources, This name change is to better reflect the mission of the agency and constituencies it serves. Watch the announcement by Ryan Brown, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Executive Director.
Virginia Outdoors Foundation created a new grant program, Get Outdoors (GO), that will provide grants of up to $25,000 for projects that increase equitable access to safe open space in Virginia’s communities. The first grant round focuses on projects in communities that have been inadequately served, overlooked, or harmed by unfair zoning, housing, and land-use practices or other systemic discrimination.
USDA-NRCS, NRCS Partners with NVCT to Protect Prime Farmland in Loudoun County, Four generations of the Abraham and Wisch families live, work and play on the 75-acre property, which has a long history in agriculture. The original log house was built in the 1700s and the main barn predates the Civil War. The tract includes more than 50 acres of prime farmland, a quarter mile of valuable stream and riparian corridors and grasslands with the potential to provide habitat for a rare butterfly.
**Thank you to the associations and member organizations we collaborate with for all their phenomenal work in 2020. We have tremendous partners! Thank you: Chesapeake Conservation Partnership, Land Trust Alliance, State Trails Advisory Committee, Virginia Conservation Network, Virginiaforever, and Virginia Trails Alliance.