Land conservation means making plans for your land so that existing natural and cultural resources are protected. Important land conservation tools are permanent conservation easements, temporary agricultural and forestal districts and best management practices.
The Shenandoah Valley is one of our nation’s most iconic landscapes, rich in extraordinary natural and historic resources deserving of protection. Yet, permanent land protection and stewardship to protect these important resources face significant challenges.
Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley serves as a resource for landowners, providing accurate information and options for land conservation. The Alliance also partners with local land trusts to connect landowners with available conservation services. Additionally, the Alliance advocates for much-needed local, state and federal funding to support the protection of farmland, forestland and battlefields. Follow our most recent work here.
What is land conservation?
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement, established between a landowner and non-profit conservation organization or public agency, which places specific permanent restrictions on the use and development of a property.
In Virginia, conservation easements are “held” by either a government agency or a non-profit conservation organization, called a land trust. Holding means the land trust or agency has agreed to accept the terms of the easement and assumes the long-term legal responsibility for monitoring the land and enforcing the easement restrictions.
There are also governmental and non-profit organizations with programs that target land with specific resources, such as prime farmland, historic sites, or natural heritage protection. Historic preservation easements have special protections tailored to the unique resources on the property.
Agricultural and Forestal Districts are temporary agreements between landowners and a locality to keep their property undeveloped and available for farming or forestry for a certain period of time, usually 4 to 10 years. These districts are voluntary and intended to help localities protect farm and forested land as a major economic and environmental resource.
Best Management Practices (BMPs) are conservation practices used to control runoff, erosion, pollution, and waste to reduce pollutants entering our surface and ground waters. Local Soil and Water Conservation Districts have programs available to provide technical and financial assistance for implementation of these BMPs. Conservation easements often require implementation of BMPs.