Land Conservation Grants awarded

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The Department of Conservation and Recreation today announced $7.5 million in Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) grants, which will fund 30 conservation projects and protect 8,000 acres of land across the commonwealth.

Private land trusts, local governments and state agencies will use the VLCF grants to acquire and protect significant lands in the following categories: farmland, forestry, historic resources, natural areas, and parks and open space. The grant selection process incorporates ConserveVirginia, the commonwealth’s innovative land conservation strategy that is based on “smart map” technology.

The list of grant awards includes $500,000 requested by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation for a conservation easement to protect the 920-acre Forkland Dairy farm in Cumberland County.

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“The Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grants program helps protect our most important natural resources and provide more access to the great outdoors for everyone to enjoy,” Governor Northam said. “Through ConserveVirginia, we’re making sure we prioritize protecting lands that bring the most benefit, addressing historic inequalities and widening our public land program into new areas. Each one of these grants is an opportunity to protect public space in our local communities.”

“From working farms to forests, historic cultural treasures, natural area preserves and other open spaces, the latest round of Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grants will protect a wide variety of lands throughout the commonwealth,” Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Ann Jennings, who serves as chair of the 19-member VLCF board that votes on the grants, said. “These funded projects meet high standards to help provide clean water to the citizens of the commonwealth and to restore the Chesapeake Bay.”

An interagency workgroup reviewed and scored grant applications and made recommendations for funding to the board, which approved the awards on Oct. 27. The Department of Conservation and Recreation provides administrative support to the VLCF through the state Office of Land Conservation.

“These awarded projects demonstrate significant progress toward achieving the Commonwealth’s land conservation goals,” Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Clyde E. Cristman said. “As the statewide clearinghouse for land conservation, the Department of Conservation and Recreation and our partner agencies work to ensure the competitive grant process provides the greatest positive impact across the commonwealth.”

This was the third round of awards approved by the VLCF board in 2021. A total of $3.4 million in grants was approved Feb. 5 and another $4.8 million was approved on June 10.