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Land Trust of Virginia Makes Conservation Easy By Sophie Scheps For Middleburg Life
he Land Trust of Virginia (LTV) was founded in 1992 with a mission to partner with private landowners trying to protect their property in perpetuity with a conservation easement. Through yearly monitoring by LTV’s stewardship staff, special elements of a property, including wetlands and battle sites, are no longer in danger of development. Located in a small office in Atoka, LTV now has over 14,000 acres under easement in 10 counties around the state, with 8,500 in Loudoun County alone. Leslie VanSant, executive director, joined LTV this past April. She’s spent her career working with well-known non-profits such as the American Red Cross and the Great Meadow Foundation. Moving forward into the next 25 years, LTV is examining how their nonprofit can and should grow. “Our goal is to continue to reach out to land owners so they know that easements are a possibility,” said VanSant. “We can look at their property and see what makes it stand out. We will take easements as small as just a few acres.” VanSant is originally from Chester County outside of Philadelphia and, as a lifelong equestrian, the move to the Virginia Piedmont was a natural fit. Working in land conservation allows her to see what a blessing open space is every day. “This area is so rich in value and provides so much to people,” she said. “When visitors come to Middleburg on the weekends and as they drive west on Route 50 they pause and feel better. Being in green space and seeing all this beauty makes people happy.” LTV is in the process of examining areas of vulnerability around the state and gather resources
to help preserve high-risk environments. A recent LTV survey of the Blue Ridge Mountains was astonishing. “Last year we were awarded a grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment to do this study on the Blue Ridge,” VanSant said. “We looked at a four-county county area and determined a section of 220,000 acres that are vulnerable and need to be put under easement.” Only 30,000 acres of this vulnerable area of the Blue Ridge are protected by state and federal parks or private easements. With increasing development pressure, this area rich in plants and wildlife could be in jeopardy. Moving forward, LTV plans to present this information to other organizations with a shared interest in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Together with talking to private landowners, the goal is to get these acres under protection. LTV also prides itself on being an access point of information to its landowners on a variety of subjects, including resources for wildlife care and historic structure preservation. The goal is to create a lasting partnership. “We help landowners make connections with other agencies,” she said. “One landowner had a barn burn down and we’re helping provide information to restore a historic barn. We want to be a conduit for information.” The Middleburg area has long been a focal point for conservationists to preserve open space for equestrian and field sports and to maintain its the small town charm. “Driving the length of Atoka Road, a majority of those properties are under easement,” VanSant said. “Knowing that it will still look like that for my grandkids and their grandkids is pretty amazing. John Mosby could wake up from the dead tomorrow and pretty much know where he is. That’s really special.” n
Executive Director of the Land Trust of Virginia Leslie Van Sant presents Paul and Marion MacMahon the Landowner of the Year Award. She is joined by Chris Dematatis president of the board and and Chairman of the Board Birge Watkins.
LAND TRUST OF VIRGINIA’S OUTSTANDING CONSERVATIONISTS
t their recent annual Garden Party at Lee Hall in The Plains the Land Trust of Virginia presented the following awards. 250th Anniversary – Copeland Farm, Patric and Maura Copeland. For 250 years, the Copeland Family has called their farm in Hillsboro home. Distant relatives visit from far flung locations because they feel a connection to the family homestead. Landowner of the Year – Paul & Marion MacMahon. In the past two years, the MacMahon family has preserved a total of 516 acres in northern Fauquier County. Their efforts, generosity and commitment to the land are positive examples for all. Steward of the Year – Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. With four properties in easement, totaling 743 acres, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club is dedicated to protecting and caring for the land along the Appalachian Trail. Conservationist of the Year – Childs Burden. For decades, Childs Burden has worked tirelessly for our community to preserve its heritage, history and beauty.
AT HIGHLAND, YOU CAN BE PART OF SOMETHING BIG
At Highland, a Pre-K to Grade 12 independent day school in Warrenton, the 44 students of the Class of 2015 are off to some of the best colleges and universities in the US and around the world. Congratulations to Highland’s Class of 2015! Caroline Arthur Phoebe Bain Olivia Bell (v) Tanya Bopp Thomas Boudreaux Johnny Bounds Griffin Brehm Ann Collins Parker Collins Savannah Corbin Jamie Dyer Seth Finkel Alexandra Granato Julia Granato Rosemary Groux (s) Henry Hazel Lan Ho Nick Iasso Seth Kott Marion Lacueille Brandon Landers Luwei Lei (v) = Valedictorian
Lanhao Mao Caroline Melvin Phillip Mulford Shawn Noel Cassandra Schaan Oliver Schwartz Miranda Shaw Jessica Simpson Sophia Sirianni Ci Song Emily Stevens Madeline Terpilowski MC Treuting Ward Van de Water Philip Von Feilitzsch MacKenzie Walker Emma Walsh Liam Walsh Nick Whitehead Jiayi Yuan Jiacheng Zheng Tyler Zimmerman (s) = Salutatorian
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