Virginia Land Conservation Foundation awards 17 grants totaling US$2.4M, adding 2,234 acres to Gov. Bob McDonnell's goal of preserving 400,000 acres by 2014

RICHMOND, Virginia , September 23, 2011 (press release) – Governor Bob McDonnell today announced 17 grants totaling $2.4 million dollars awarded by the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, a state land conservation board. The grants will help add 2,234 acres toward Gov. McDonnell's goal of preserving 400,000 acres by 2014.

Twenty-seven applications were received, with grant requests totaling nearly $5.5 million.

"The VLCF has done outstanding work in selecting projects that provide a wealth of opportunities for land conservation protecting a host of natural and historical assets," said Governor McDonnell. "Protecting these lands also provides other benefits such as protecting water quality and providing recreational opportunities."

"Land conservation like this enhances the natural beauty of the Commonwealth for everyone," said Natural Resources Secretary Doug Domenech. "It also increases conservation tourism and historic preservation."

Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry said, "Preserving working farms and forests contributes to the economic vitality of Virginia by creating jobs, producing goods that are sold in the global marketplace, and generating tax revenue all while needing or consuming very little, if any, services in the localities where they are located."

VLCF grants are used by private land trusts, local governments, and state agencies to protect and acquire special lands in the following categories: open spaces and parks, historic areas, farm and forestry, and natural areas. Because the grants require a minimum of a 50 percent match, the projects approved represent at least $26.3 million in public and private money going to land conservation across the state.

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 chairman, and the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation staffs the foundation.

The following list provides the project name, requesting organization and VLCF funding for the 17 approved grants:

Open Spaces and Parks Category

Lynnhaven Estuary Protection (City of Va. Beach Parks and Recreation)

Acquiring 82 acres of coastal wetlands and maritime forest in the city of Virginia Beach to expand a network of existing adjacent conservation lands along Pleasure House Creek and Lynnhaven Bay. It is part of a larger conservation effort to permanently protect the entire Pleasure House Point property that includes a partnership between the City of Virginia Beach, the Trust for Public Land, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Grant amount: $500,000.

Gilbert's Corner Regional Park (Northern Va. Park Authority)

Expand Gilbert's Corner Regional Park by acquiring 68 acres to be used for regional park purposes. Proposed park uses include pervious hiking and equestrian trails and natural and historic resource interpretation. Grant amount: $200,000.

Roanoke River Greenway (City of Salem Planning Department)

Acquisition of nearly nine acres in the City of Salem needed for completion of the Roanoke River Greenway between Rotary Park and the city line. Trail construction for this portion of the trail is funded by a Transportation Enhancement grant of $688,000. Grant amount: $33,825.

Whitehall Trail Easement (Spotsylvania County)

Acquire a public access recreational trail way easement along a roughly 2-mile portion of the abandoned Virginia Central Railroad right-of-way. The access trail way corridor follows the Virginia Central Corridor, connecting Fredericksburg to Orange County through Spotsylvania County. Will be developed as a multi-use recreational trail serving bicycle, pedestrian, and equestrian users. Grant amount: $24,762.

Historic Areas Category

Island Farm (Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation)

Purchase an easement of more than 174 acres located within Cedar Creek Civil War Battlefield. The Civil War Sites Advisory Commission of the National Park Service has given this battlefield its highest preservation priority of I.1. The easement will allow for preservation of a large portion of the battlefield as well as Cedar Creek waterfront, scenic open space, and prime agricultural soils. Grant amount: $238,967.

Werowocomoco Archaeological Site (Virginia Department of Historic Resources) Purchase an easement of more than 60 acres containing the Werowocomoco archaeological site, acknowledged as the location of paramount chief Powhatan's village and the political and spiritual center of the Powhatan tribal confederacy. Captain John Smith's diaries indicate that this is likely the location where his life was saved by Powhatan's daughter Pocahontas. The easement will allow for preservation of a site equal in importance to historic Jamestown, as well as preservation of scenic open space and York River waterfront. Grant amount: $80,000

"Stonewall" Jackson Amputation Site and Vicinity (Spotsylvania County)

Purchase nearly 82 acres located in the Chancellorsville Civil War Battlefield study area. The property includes the site of the field hospital where the left arm of Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was amputated on May 3, 1863 following the Battle of Chancellorsville. Grant amount: $70,875.

Farmlands and Forestry Category

Arkfeld Farm (Clarke County Easement Authority)

Purchase a conservation easement on 200 acres in Clarke County. The Arkfelds have owned and farmed this property since the late 1990s. Primarily used as a cow calf operation, Arkfeld Farm also is used for crop, hay, and pasture production. There are 85 acres of prime soils and 25 acres of locally important soils on this property. The property also has nearly one mile of riparian area along the Opequon Creek (an EPA designated impaired waterway). Grant amount: $40,000.

Island Ford Farm (Potomac Conservancy)

Purchase a 150 acre conservation easement in Shenandoah County. The Vance family has been farming this Century Farm since the original grant from Lord Fairfax. The farm produces beef cattle, hay and vegetables and includes 88 acres of prime farmland, 60+ woodland acres and more than one mile of frontage on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. The farm uses livestock stream exclusion fencing, alternative water systems, rotational grazing, and forested riparian buffers. These protections will be continued in the conservation easement. Grant amount: $82,500.

Moore and Dorsey, Bell and Johnson tracts (Clarke County Conservation Easement Authority)

Purchase a 150 acre conservation easement on farmland in Clarke County. Moore and Dorsey, Inc. has owned this property for more than 50 years. The property has 104 acres of prime soils, 14 acres of state important soils and 30 acres of locally important soils. It is in the Long Marsh Rural Historic District and includes two historic structures contributing to that district. Grant amount: $80,000.

Noland PDR Project (Fauquier County PDR Program)

Purchase a conservation easement on 168.5 acres of farmland in Fauquier County. The Noland Farm is a working cattle and hay farm, and has 111 acres of prime soils and 15 acres of locally important soils. The farm is adjacent to three other protected farms and the 271 acre state-owned Weston Wildlife Management Area. Inclusion of the Noland Farm would result in a contiguous block of 1,500 acres of farmland protected through the Fauquier County PDR program. Grant amount: $52,047.

Pitchers for the Public (Meadowview Biological Research Station)

Acquire 17 acres next to Fort AP Hill in Caroline County to serve as Meadowview's Central Virginia Preserve. The 17 acres includes rare gravel bog habitat and adjacent uplands. The property is undergoing habitat restoration through mechanical clearing, chemical site treatments, and prescribed fire to enhance indigenous rare plants. The site is used for guided tours, research, educational, and recreational purposes. Grant amount: $56,500.

Upper Hoskins Creek (Virginia Department of Forestry)

Purchase a conservation easement on nearly 212 acres of forestland in Essex County near Tappahannock. It is bounded by Hoskins Creek to the north and east over a distance of 1.3 miles. Hoskins Creek, a navigable tidal waterway, is a tributary of the tidal portion of the Rappahannock River. This easement will include extensive riparian buffers on tidal and freshwater creeks, protecting both water quality and the view from Hoskins Creek. Grant amount: $137,000.

Natural Area Protection Category

Cedars Natural Area Preserve – Bowen Tract (The Nature Conservancy)

The Nature Conservation will acquire 296 acres as an addition to the existing 731 acres owned by TNC and the 1,487-acre DCR Cedars Natural Area Preserve. The site contains 45 acres of riparian habitat along nearly two miles of the globally significant Powell River and a quarter-mile of Hardy Creek. This globally significant freshwater fish and mussel habitat supports 16 globally and state rare species, in addition to globally significant terrestrial plant species and cave and karst resources. Grant amount: $250,000.

South Quay Natural Area Preserve (The Nature Conservancy)

TNC will acquire the 420-acre Byrds Point Tract as an addition to the 287-acre privately owned South Quay Natural Area Preserve. The tract supports 25 rare species and significant natural communities, provides significant frontage on the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers, and is part of a 25-mile conservation corridor extending into North Carolina. Grant amount: $262,500.

Cheroenhaka Protected Land (Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Tribe)

The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Heritage Foundation, Inc. is to acquire 156 acres as an addition to their 100 acres next to the Cypress Bridge Swamp Natural Area Preserve. The site supports cypress-tupelo swamp forest, provides important buffer to the existing natural area preserve, Nottoway River, and foundation holdings. It also has potential for native longleaf pine restoration. Grant amount: $150,000.

Milton easement, Pedlar Hill addition (Virginia Outdoors Foundation)

VOF is to purchase a 165-acre conservation easement. The site is part of a B1 globally significant natural heritage conservation site in proximity to protected lands held by DCR and The Nature Conservancy. Grant amount: $155,087.

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