Welcome Remarks, Biscuit Run State Park event at Monticello
I am honored to welcome Governor Kaine and everyone here today. Albemarle has long supported open space preservation through its land use program begun in 1973, and ACE, the acquisition of conservation easements program, begun in 2000.
Governor, when you were here for our last conservation event, in July 2008, we were celebrating the first easement purchased with Office of Farmland Preservation funds, the Clayton farm on Beaver Creek in Crozet, which pushed the ACE acreage to 5560 acres.
Over the nine years the voluntary ACE program has protected 36 properties, including:
- 26 working farms with 3576 acres of prime farm and forest land
- 12 in the watershed for our drinking water, with more than 76K (76534) feet of streamside buffers
- 11 in Rural Historic districts,
- 24 with scenic tourism values, protecting miles along state roads and 454 acres of mountaintop
- 7224 acres in total
- 435 development lots permanently removed
The program has enjoyed widespread support from county residents who understand the financial as well as environmental benefits to conservation. Our acquisition values, including leveraged funds from other sources, are more than $10 million, while the easement values are more than $13 million. ACE has proven to be a worthy program on all accounts.
In 2009, generous landowners placed 97 new parcels in ag forestal districts, adding 6530 acres. The Ag forestal acreage total is now 88,000 acres.
Success in achieving our goals was also dependent upon a coordinated effort between local non-profit organizations like Monticello, PEC, county governmental programs like ACE, and statewide conservation groups like DCR, DOF, and VOF. (Department of Conservation and Recreation, Department of Forestry and Virginia Outdoors Foundation)
Just a few hours prior to the Biscuit Run closing, the Carter family donated three conservation easements to the Piedmont Environmental Council which protect Redlands and 1,000 acres of land that surrounds it. This land has been in the Carter family since 1730 and was part of a king’s grant of 9,350 acres to John Carter. Redlands was constructed in 1789 and is on the National Register of Historic places. Calder Loth calls Redlands, “one of the Commonwealth’s most important Federal-period landmarks.”
The above project is just one of the many land preservation projects in Albemarle County that helped reach the governor’s 400,000 acre goal and an example of how this goal was achieved only with the voluntary decisions of private landowners.
Most importantly success was dependent upon a commitment by the Commonwealth and by Governor Kaine to maintain the Land Preservation Tax Credit Program as an incentive for landowners and to provide matching funds for programs like the Office of Farmland Preservation.
It is a harsh financial reality that our ACE program must shrink at the time when our purchasing ability would be the best in many years. The event today will help to cushion that reduced funding and provide ecological, educational, and recreational values close to the urban area and economic value to our entire County. Local non profits, the Albemarle Natural Heritage Committee, and citizens are all ready to participate in the master planning for Biscuit Run.
Thank you all for coming to participate.
It is my great privilege to introduce Preston Bryant, Secretary of Natural Resources and also my boss, since the Virginia Museum of Natural History is part of that department.