Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Former US Sen. Paul Trible Conserves 508 Acres of Family Land

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) recorded the agency’s first forestland conservation easement in Northumberland County when former US Sen. Paul Trible developed a conservation easement on 508 acres of his family land, Gascony Farm.

When landowners are contemplating a conservation easement and the perpetual protection it offers from future development, it is most often a family matter.

“My family and I have owned Gascony for almost 100 years and love the rich natural beauty and history of the property. We want future generations to be able to know and love and experience this property as we do,” Senator Trible said.

The Trible family has managed the forest on this tract of land for many years with the help of the VDOF Area Forester Rich Steensma. “I admire Paul for his ability and willingness to gather lands back together,” Steensma said. “Several years ago, when others were eager to subdivide and maximize profit through parcelization, Paul was following in his father’s footsteps of stewardship by continually working to bring subdivided parcels of land back together, into one whole working landscape of forest and farmland.”

The VDOF has been serving Virginia’s forest landowners for nearly 100 years, and over time has developed a high level of confidence and trust with local landowners.

Senator Trible said, “My father and I have worked with the Department of Forestry for many years and have great respect for the outstanding public service provided by the department. We are very confident that the Department of Forestry is the right partner for us to protect and preserve these lands that we cherish.”

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a government agency or land trust that permanently limits development of the land subsequently protecting such conservation values as forestry, agriculture, open space and wildlife habitat. The terms of the easement are developed between the landowner and the organization that will hold the easement – in this case, the Virginia Department of Forestry. The terms of the easement are perpetual and apply to all future landowners. No change to ownership of the property occurs. Landowners continue to own, use and control their land, and can sell it or pass it on to heirs. Easement agreements do not require landowners to provide public access.

VDOF Forestland Conservation Specialist Rob Suydam said, “The Department of Forestry was very excited when Senator Trible contacted us about helping him develop a conservation easement on his family’s land. This beautiful piece of forestland protects the conservation values of forest, farm and open space. In addition, because this property is so close to the Chesapeake Bay, the watershed and wildlife habitat protection this easement provides is outstanding.”

Virginia loses 16,000 acres of forestland each year. Often, forest converted to other uses, such as residential development, is the result of choices made by individual landowners, who own nearly 80 percent of the forestland in Virginia. VDOF is committed to slowing the loss of valuable forestland to conversion by working with landowners to help them keep their land in forest. For landowners who feel that permanent protection is the right thing for them, their family and their land, VDOF offers its services to help them develop a conservation easement.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has established itself as a leader in land conservation by providing transferable state income tax credits as incentives for landowners interested in protecting their land from development. Because this state tax credit is transferable, many landowners often sell their credits and convert them to cash.

For more information about VDOF’s land conservation program, please contact Rob Suydam at 804.328.3031.

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