The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust is both grateful and excited to be able to
sustain abundant, thriving natural places in our Virginia communities. We showed this commitment through the recent completion of easements in Loudoun, Stafford, Fairfax, Spotsylvania Counties and the City of Alexandria.
Diversity is a common thread woven through the easements we closed these past few weeks. A range of acreage, landscape and place mirror of our region’s complex makeup. While they are diverse in nature, from a ¼-acre plot in urban Alexandria to our largest easement yet, a 443-acre tract along the Potomac shores of Stafford County, these easements underline our drive to protect land from climate change and development pressures in both urban and rural settings.
Conservation works best when whole communities are involved, and every member is a stakeholder. We could not protect these lands without our friends and supporters...without you. Thanks to the dedication, commitment and generosity of our landowners, donors, and partners, along with a good measure of stick-to-itiveness – NVCT has now permanently protected over 8,000-acres of land in the Northern Virginia area!
Hidden Covey Farm
This 75-acre farm in western Loudoun County exhibits a wealth of resources – over 50 acres of prime farmland, a quarter-mile of valuable stream and riparian corridors, and grasslands with the potential to support a globally-rare butterfly. Four generations of the Abraham and Wisch family now live on the greater farm, pursuing a range of pasture-raised beef, pork and poultry. Since purchasing the farm, the family has worked with local technical advisors to convert the farm from corn to pasture, installed fencing and waterers, begun restoring the riparian area, and begun renovating the previously existing buildings, which include historic homestead and barn structures dating back to at least the Civil-war era.
NVCT secured grant funding from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) and the USDA/NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to purchase an agricultural easement on the property, along with a donation component from the landowner. Loudoun County joined NVCT as a co-holder of the easement, and both the county and NRCS continue to partner with the landowners in the ongoing stewardship of the farm. In the end, nearly 60 people contributed effort over a 3-year period to make this unique project a reality.
Potomac Stafford Land Company
NVCT’s largest easement to date is this 443-acre tract of rolling hills adjacent to the Potomac River outside Widewater. Encompassing wetlands, streams and scenic vistas, the property
could have allowed for a 126-home subdivision or data centers to be developed. The easement restricts future residential development to defined areas and creates an extensive forest preserve, as well as riparian and scenic buffers, and protects the border lands to the adjacent Quantico Marine Corps Base.
Upper Holmes Run Forest
This new conservation easement protects a unique and varied nearly 4-acre property right along the beltway – a remnant of larger land holdings from a previous era. The property currently has a single home dating back to the 1940s, an adjacent riparian corridor and a large expanse of mature hardwood canopy seldom seen in developed Fairfax County today. The easement will support protection of the floodplain and forest canopy and while allowing for small scale urban agriculture and protecting scenic views from adjacent roads and trails.
This small jewel sits in urban Alexandria adjacent to a wide swath of privately-owned forestland. Originally set aside for a second homesite, the previous owner wished to instead forever protect this quarter-acre tract consisting of stream-side trees, shrubs and grassy areas, with the potential for future “pocket-park” public access.
One of NVCT’s largest easements and our first in Spotsylvania, the 223-acre Lee’s Hill Golf Course protects 1.25 miles of riparian corridor along Massaponax Creek and over fifty-five acres of wetlands, while providing for more sustainable golf-course management. Without permanent protection, the owners could have developed dozens of homes – under the new easement, it will only ever be a golf course or a public park.
We hope into the future, the diversity of our easements continues to increase, as the need for open space becomes more important. We understand the natural, historical and cultural value our land holds and as your local land trust, we are committed to making sure not only you, but future generations can enjoy it too!