October 24, 2017 - Kuhn: Preserving 1,000 Acres in Northern Virginia, Loudoun County, VA - Chuck Kuhn, founder and president of JK Moving Services in Sterling, was presented an award for his land preservation efforts by the Old Dominion Land Conservancy (ODLC).
Kuhn received the Commonwealth Steward Award for preserving more than 1,000 acres of land in Loudoun County at an event Oct. 12 at Middleburg Training Center, which is one of Kuhn’s preservation efforts.
“What we are trying to do in general, and what my wife and I feel strongly about, is protecting the open spaces,” Kuhn said. “In Loudoun County, we have put about 1,100 acres into a conservation easement and we are in the process in Fauquier County of putting another 800 acres into a conservation easement.
“With that, we have put almost 2,700 acres into it over the last four years, and over the next 24 months we will be putting another 2,500 acres into the program, mostly in Loudoun County.”
According to Executive Director Henry Stribling, ODLC was founded, “To preserve the open countryside we all love and cherish. To provide habitats for wildlife. To protect our clean water sources. To create parks and trails. To save farmland from developers.”
In particular, Kuhn said, that last goal was behind his efforts to acquire and protect the Middleburg Training Center.
“There were two developers bidding on the property, and we didn’t want to see that turn into a residential community,” Kuhn said. “So, our first goal was to put it into a conservation easement. Our second goal is to restore the property and rebrand it. Right now, the focus in all on thoroughbred flat-track racing. We want to renovate it and bring in other equine disciplines.”
Virginia Sen. Jill Vogel and Del. Randy Minchew offered introductory remarks touting the success of the land conservation initiative in Virginia at the event, which was co-sponsored by Farm Credit. “The Virginia Land Preservation Tax Credit is one of our greatest tools to preserve open space and has been tremendously effective in our Virginia Piedmont region,” Minchew said.
Virginia allows an income tax credit for 40 percent of the value of donated land or conservation easements. Taxpayers may use up to $20,000 per year in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and $50,000 per year in subsequent tax years. Tax credits may be carried forward for up to 13 years.
Jorge Espinosa of ODLC said Kuhn was honored for putting several farms into easement near Loudoun’s historic villages. Egypt Farm, near Lincoln, which had been previously owned by developers, and Rogues Hollow is a farm outside of Waterford, a village designated a National Historic Landmark. Espinosa also credited Kuhn with facilitating the easement of Camp Highroad, bringing to a total of over seven easements encompassing over 1,900 acres in Lincoln.
A member of the National Land Trust Alliance, Old Dominion Land Trust currently holds 8,500 acres of land in the easement and is currently working with the Robert & Dee Leggett Foundation and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to create the first State Park in Loudoun County.
JK Moving is the largest independent moving company in North America. Kuhn’s other land holdings include Spring Hill Farm, a 744-acre farm in Fauquier County that currently is being considered for the easement.
He said his land conservations efforts reflect his belief that there needs to be a balance between growth and preservation.
“We want to see business growth and residential growth,” Kuhn said. “At the same time, we have to have balance. We have certain areas where we want to protect the open spaces and there are other areas where we want to have planned development. There is space for both.”
George Thompson from the American Chestnut Foundation presented Kuhn with four American Chestnut trees in recognition of his efforts.
“George is a neat guy and he has done some good things with land conservation,” Kuhn said. “There are some neat pioneers that I am learning a lot from, and the county supervisors have been very supportive and we have used Farm Credit to help with the financing on some of the property. They are very tied to the farming community and very pro-conservation.” View Loudoun Times-Mirror article by Joseph Dill.
June 15, 2016 - Loudoun County Now Officially Has a State Park! Hamilton, VA - Yesterday, after years of work, the deed was recorded transferring approximately 600 acres of land in Northwestern Loudoun County to the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation. This transaction, first announced by Governor Bob McDonnell in January 2014 means that Loudoun County now officially has a state park!
The land for the state park was donated to the Commonwealth by the Old Dominion Land Conservancy (ODLC) of Purcellville, which received the land from the Robert and Dee Leggett foundation. The property borders the Appalachian Trail and includes historic farmsteads, deep woods and wildflower meadows.
Senator Richard Black stated, "I'm proud of all of the work our local elected officials have put into bringing this project to fruition. It will be a lasting benefit to the community that will provide a place for people to enjoy the beauty of Loudoun County."
Delegate Dave LaRock added, "I'm excited about this new park being established and thankful for the efforts of Sen. Dick Black, Del. Randy Minchew, Supervisor Geary Higgins and State, County and ODLC staff to make this State Park a reality. This Park will be a great addition to Western Loudoun's already-vibrant winery and tourism industries."
Delegate Randy Minchew said, "I have hiked through this land a number of times and it is a great piece of property. It could become the Sky Meadows State Park of Loudoun County. This will be a jewel for the whole county."
Catoctin District Supervisor Geary M. Higgins added, "The significance of this new state park is immense and I have been privileged to have been a part of this process over the past three years. This park will be a jewel to Loudoun County, the Catoctin District, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Nation. From a historical perspective alone this park preserves a considerable piece of history as this land includes the route Mosby's Rangers took to attack the federal camp of Cole's Cavalry one-hundred and fifty years ago on January 10, 1864. I commend Bob and Dee Leggett for their donation and foresight to create this park that will be enjoyed not only by residents of Loudoun County but by many future generations." View park map and Loudoun Times-Mirror article.
The 600-acre parcel is part of the 900-acre Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship (BRCES), and is the initial portion of what may become a 1,500-acre park. It will be several years before the property is developed. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, which manages the Virginia park system, will work to develop master plans for the Loudoun County property once acquisition is complete. The master plan will incorporate input from the local community, park planners and state officials.
March 7, 2016, Today's article by Parker Agelasto, executive director of the Capital Region Land Conservancy, in the Richmond-Times Dispatch discusses the VA Senate "halving the state funds previously budgeted for land conservation...while the House eliminated $500,000 from Farmland Preservation." Net is that the $40 million slated for preserving natural areas and open spaces could very well be cut by $20,500,000. Agelasto raises excellent reasons why the Assembly must fully fund the $40 million in Governor McAuliffe's 2017-2018 budget. Richmond-Times Dispatch article by Parker Agelasto.
For several years, the State of Virginia has planned a park in far northwestern Loudoun County. As of February 17, 2016, that goal has moved one step closer to becoming a reality. Roughly 600 acres of land in conservation easement was donated to the Old Dominion Land Conservancy by the Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation. It will form the backbone of the new park. "If all the people donate who have expressed an interest, we would have close to 1,500 acres that would stretch along the Blue ridge and Potomac River" said Henry Stribling, executive director of the Old Dominion Land Conservancy.
The effort to create the parkland is working its way through legal technicalities before the state can take possession. Recently, the Board of Supervisors approved a change to the easement rules which would allow the state to put up a sign and meet other state land rules, such as those dealing with legal indemnity. Two of the holders of the conservation easements on the land, the county government and the Potomac Conservancy Inc., have agreed to the change in its terms. Stribling said the third, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is expected to agree soon. LoudounNow article by Renss Greene.
On December 18, 2015, Congress passed a huge tax incentive program which included an enhanced land conservation tax incentive program. With this program Congress permanently established the enhanced conservation easement tax incentive. In brief, that majority vote represented a huge win for the land trust community of owners and organizers with over $1.8 trillion slated for numerous conservancy project in all states.
In 2014 the Farm Bill provided billions of dollars for land conservation, including over $1 billion over 10 years just for conservation easements. The Natural Resource conservation Service (NRCS) now runs these programs. The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides matching funds that ODLC can use to purchase conservation easements on agricultural land, grasslands, and wetlands. The amount of funding is dependent on the type of land being conserved. Generally the value is 50% of FMV but that figure is dependent on the type and size of the land to be placed in conservancy. For example: grasslands can be valued at 75% if their FMV, wetlands can be valued as high as 100% of their FMV if a permanent easement is granted.