Land Conservation Helps Everyone
The important fact to remember when considering placing land in a conservation easement is that land conservation ultimately improves the quality of life for everyone for generations to come.
How land conservancy helps you.
Virginia is steeped in a rich historical legacy full of triumph and tragedy often with the same root causes. The state's history ranges from Native American peoples and European settlers to the years of warring between the states during the Civil War.
It is famous for the Blue Ridge Mountains, pastoral landscapes, 7,213 miles of shoreline, and untold miles of streams, rivers, and ultimately, coastal waterways. It also has great agricultural soils, millions of acres of farmland and forests, and vast numbers of flowing springs, streams and rivers. Virginia has a wealth of natural resources.
How land conservancy improves the community.
Land conservation through land trusts, federal, state, and county park lands, and historic areas, preserves open spaces and protects the land from over development. Development is not bad. However, unrestricted development destroys our heritage areas, landscapes, soils, access to fresh water, and clean air
Everyone would like to preserve the mountain views and scenic agricultural fields (livestock and planted varieties) so future generations are not subject to vistas full of wall-to-wall unrestrained development. However, we must also preserve the quality of our fields and flowing water as one can pollute the other.
How land conservancy improves the quality of land and water.
In most counties, but especially those close to the larger city centers, keeping small farms productive hinges on the demand for multiple varieties of local produce, meat, honey, spirits, wool, grains, livestock feed, and fish. Farming is not a casual endeavor. It is both costly and work intensive to keep a small farm in production.
Virginians are also fortunate to live in or near the Blue Ridge Mountains which cover the entire western part of Virginia. Much of the Blue Ridge area is forested, which is key natural resource. In addition to helping clean the air by filtering out pollutants, forests are in a large part responsible for clean water. Maintaining large tracts of forests and natural lands is vital to the maintaining and improving the quality of drinking water because they form a multi-tiered natural barrier that greatly helps to filter out pollutants.
You can place some or all of your land into conservancy - there is no size requirement.
What matters more than size is the type and location of land, the reason for protection, public benefits, and yes, federal, state, and local tax credits…all are key reasons to place land into conservancy.
When land is placed into a conservation easement, the owner can, for example, give up the right to subdivide in exchange for a tax credit, while still retaining the right to a smaller subdivision, to ranch, farm, harvest timber, and live on the land even pass it on to heirs. Another option for land conservancy is to act as a buffer between developed areas, or along rivers and historic roadways.
Conserving land is a planned investment. If your community is structured with open space, trails, natural habitats, ponds, rivers or streams, you can encourage landowners to place large blocks of land into conservancy. Many counties are now encouraging developers to create clustered housing developments rather than traditional tract housing developments for the express purpose of conserving open space.
How can I conserve land?
You can get involved by:
- Continued education about the creation of environmental conservancy legacies and the tax advantages of land conservancy
- Supporting local land and water conservation efforts
- Participating in CSA Groups - Community Supported Agriculture
- Becoming involved with the activities of local land trusts
- Placing land in a land trust
- Donating land to a land trust
Unless our open land, forests, and bodies of water are preserved, the views we take for granted, the water we drink, and the air we breathe, could very well become a memory.