The Virts Property consists of about 155 acres. Of the 155 acres approximately 135 acres are field and 20 acres are wooded. The property is bisected by the North Fork of the Catoctin Creek. The property is currently planned for development of approximately 30 housing lots. The gift of easement will result in four (4) lots with the availability of three (3) additional homes.
The farm as currently operated provides for open access and ample vegetation for wildlife. The naturally occurring vegetation and trees along streams and on steep embankments also provides cover and food for wildlife.
The conservation of the watershed adds to the value of this easement by preserving the surface waterway on the property. The property has over one third of a mile of frontage on the North Fork of the Catoctin Creek. The North Fork of the Catoctin Creek and the tributaries on the property feed into the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.
Some of the fields are currently used for producing hay providing a natural filter for run off to the creek. By reducing the number of houses and septic fields on the property potential contamination of the creek is reduced. The three (3) additional house site and septic fields have been placed away from the creeks preventing contamination.
This property meets the criteria for conservation based on the scenic value of the property. The rolling hillside, pastures, trees and wildlife habitat provide stunning examples of Virginia’s boundary between the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Regions. The property is visible from two state roads, John Wolford Road and Virts Lane. The property is also in the view shed of the Appalachian Trail.
The Virts Property is in the view shed of the Appalachian Trail. The property also falls within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. The JTHG Corridor Management Plan (draft 2008) calls for “working with existing and available tools [to] maintain the intrinsic qualities of the Byway primarily through private, voluntary land conservation efforts; [using] existing and available tax incentives for historic preservation and land conservation; and the application of existing local land use plans, regulations, policies and design guidelines.” The value of continuing to preserve the view shed provided by this property fully meets the goals of the plan.
The property is just outside the town of Waterford, a National Historic Landmark District. The Waterford Foundation states on its website that “private, voluntary actions continue and are vital to the preservation of the Landmark”. The website continues, “The preservation of the historic town's ‘viewshed’ is critical, since without its preservation, the historical relationship of the land to the village would be destroyed; as a result, the designation of Waterford as a National Historic ' Landmark would be withdrawn ' by the National Park Service.” Preservation of this land will further the goal of conserving the historical and natural setting around Waterford.
The property contains over 20 acres of forest that is separated from the grazing of cattle. The forest will be maintained through a Forest Management Plan (“Plan”) prepared by a Virginia licensed professional forester. The forest is devoted to agricultural for value assessment and taxation.
The agricultural value of the farm will be preserved through continued use of the farm for hay production and raising cattle. Four generations of Virts’ have farmed the property and they plan to continue that tradition.