Thursday, February 2, 2012

Easements Continue to Conserve Forestland

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) recorded 24 easements for 8,005 acres in 2011. This figure brings the program total to just under 20,000 acres conserved in five years.

In Halifax County, Blue Wing LLC granted VDOF a conservation easement that protects 1,029 acres of working forestland. Located two miles west of Virgilina, the Blue Wing easement is now almost entirely forested. Bisected by Blue Wing Creek, a major tributary of the Hyco River, the property contains more than nine miles of stream frontage. The forested nature of the property helps protect the water quality and aquatic habitat in the watershed, affording flood control, recreational opportunities and drinking water for downstream communities.

The Blue Wing donation was the second VDOF easement recorded in Halifax County in 2011, both of which are greater than 1,000 acres. VDOF now holds four easements covering 3,649 acres in Halifax County.

In Fluvanna County, Robert and Graciela Lum granted VDOF a working forest conservation easement that protects 205 acres of land. The Lum’s conservation easement is the first VDOF easement in the county.

Located south of Palmyra, the property contains 172 acres of loblolly pine stands, hardwood woodlands and riparian forests managed under a Forest Stewardship Management Plan. The Lum easement was the fifth to receive funding under the VDOF’s Forests to Faucets (F2F) Program. First introduced in 2010, the F2F program focuses on protecting water quality within the Rivanna River basin.

The property borders nearly a half-mile of Raccoon Creek and a short stretch of the Rivanna River, and contains 13 acres of forested floodplain. In addition to being a state-designated scenic river, the Rivanna provides a source of drinking water to downstream communities.

In Albemarle County, Benjamin, Terry and Thomas Warthen granted the VDOF a working forest conservation easement that protects 223 acres of land. The Warthens’ conservation easement is the second VDOF easement recorded in Albemarle County in 2011.

Located just southwest of Charlottesville on the upper slopes and summit of Piney Mountain, nearly the entire property is covered with hardwood forests that are actively managed under the guidance of a Forest Stewardship Management Plan. The easement is within the viewshed of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and future Biscuit Run State Park, helping maintain the scenic vistas that support their historic sense of place.

The property contains the headwaters of several large streams that flow into Biscuit Run, which, in turn, is a major tributary of the Rivanna River. The Warthen easement received funding under the F2F Program.
VDOF will continue to offer the F2F program to other interested landowners through August of 2012 or until funding is exhausted.

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a government agency or a non-profit conservation organization that protects the conservation values of a property. The landowner continues to own, use and control the land. The VDOF conservation easement program is the only one in the state that focuses primarily on protecting working forests. To be considered, a property must be at least 50 acres in size, 75 percent forested, and the landowner must be willing to have a forest stewardship management plan prepared. Landowners who want to ensure that their land will be forever maintained as forest may consider a VDOF easement.

For additional information on the VDOF conservation easement program or the conservation easement portion of the F2F Program, contact Mike Santucci, forest conservation specialist, at (434) 220-9182, or visit the VDOF website at

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