Conservation easements may be contagious in Warren. Last fall, Robert Hupman and four generations of his family celebrated a new conservation easement protecting their 432 acres of mountain land. Now two neighboring landowners are exploring the idea of protecting the scenic and natural resources of their own properties along the west side of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River in Warren County.
I want to show that preserving land is compatible with earning a decent income. I also want to pass on conservation values to my daughter Shenandoah.
The Hupman family easement was a long time in the making. Over 20 years ago, the Scenic 340 Project (now part of the Alliance) began talking to landowners in the Bentonville area about voluntarily and permanently safeguarding their land from development. Despite a deep-seated love for her homeplace, matriarch Anne Guy was skeptical. Robert remembers, “When my grandmother first heard about easements, she was against it. She worried that it would prevent me from making a living on the land.”
Today, however, the whole family is on board. Under the terms of the easement, held by Valley Conservation Council (VCC), Robert can continue to support his family with both his turkey farm and a river campground. The easement allows for timber harvests, hunting and fishing, as well as future agri-tourism businesses like wine grape growing. “I want to show that preserving land is compatible with earning a decent income,” Robert says. “I also want to pass on conservation values to my daughter Shenandoah.”
The Hupman easement expands an existing upriver cluster of more than a dozen easements in Overall, located south of Front Royal along U.S. Route 340. Comprised of over 2,200 acres on both sides of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, this expanse of woods and fields forms a corridor of protected habitat between the George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah National Park allowing wildlife, from songbirds to turkeys to black bear, to migrate freely back forth, thus maintaining a healthy gene pool.
Top photo: With VCC’s Taylor Evans, Robert points to the land protected by the easement.
(Photo: Explore the Valley Photography)