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Virginia

Central Virginia: Piedmont Program

Home to the Conservancy’s first preserve in Virginia, the Piedmont region spans the state from north to south. Its cultural and historical sites include the University of Virginia and the homes of presidents Thomas Jefferson (Monticello), James Madison (Montpelier) and James Monroe (Ash Lawn-Highland). Rolling hills, fertile working farms, expansive river systems, and hardwood forests comprise this densely populated plateau connecting the Blue Ridge Mountains to the coastal plain.

The Conservancy has protected more than 23,000 acres and more than 100 miles of streams here in one of the nation’s fastest growing regions. But many significant natural areas here still need protection, including 22 examples of large native forests and five river systems spanning 2.6 million acres. The Conservancy works with partners on creative strategies to conserve these finest remaining lands and waters before they disappear.  Will you help us advance this vital work?

Threats
  • incompatible development and poor agricultural practices
  • changes to natural water flow regimes
  • incompatible forestry practices
  • invasive plant species
Plants
  • 15,000-acre forests
  • cliff and forested bluff plant communities
  • Eastern hemlock
  • mountain mint
Animals
  • James spinymussel
  • green floater
  • Atlantic pigtoe 
  • cerulean warbler
  • bald eagle
  • brook trout
  • bobcat
  • black bear
Our Conservation Strategy

Guided by conservation science, the Conservancy works with a variety of partners to protect the forests, rivers and streams, wetlands, and unique habitats of the Piedmont. Below are some of the ways we work:

  • Land acquisition:
    We purchase land or interests in land and accept donations of land or easements from willing sellers and donors.
  • Science-based conservation:
    Through its science-based planning, the Conservancy has identified five watersheds and 22 examples of large contiguous native forests in the Piedmont.
  • Land management:
    Our invasive species program is an example of how effective land management helps us accomplish our goals. Considered the second greatest threat to biodiversity, non-native, invasive plants spread quickly, disrupt natural cycles, and crowd out native species. We work in partnership with private landowners and non-governmental organizations to minimize the impacts.
  • Conservation easements:
    A conservation easement is a legal agreement, recorded with the deed, that restricts the type and amount of development that can take place on the land. The Conservancy recently protected 1,193 acres from future development, eliminating 107 potential home sites, through a conservation easement on Clover Hill Farm.
  • Education and outreach:
    We foster a conservation ethic and appreciation for nature through education and outreach. The Conservancy is helping local communities learn about development approaches that preserve local character, history, traditions, and, ultimately, the ecosystem itself.
  • Help to shape public policies:
    To protect the Rivanna River watershed, the Conservancy drafted legislation passed by the General Assembly to create a Rivanna River Basin Commission to guide local decisions affecting the entire watershed. The Conservancy also has committed at least $10,000 in private funds toward a new state initiative, the Virginia Invasive Species Council, to combat invasive species and has joined a coalition of public and private groups to launch "VirginiaForever," a campaign to garner increased public support and state funding for conservation.
  • Community-based conservation:
    We are creating an innovative program that uses local real estate brokers to match conservation buyers with willing sellers of priority lands in the Piedmont.
Program Milestones and Achievements
  • Worked with the City of Fredericksburg to protect 4,232 acres of riverfront property the City owns along nearly 32 miles of the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers in the counties of Culpeper, Fauquier, Orange, Spotsylvania and Stafford.  The Nature Conservancy co-holds a conservation easement along with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
  • Expanded the protection around Fauquier County’s Wildcat Mountain Preserve—the Conservancy’s first preserve in Virginia—by receiving an easement on 1,192 acres of Clover Hill Farm adjoining the preserve and by receiving a gift of land on a neighboring 258 acres.
  • Added 708 acres adjacent to the Shenandoah National Park in Greene County to the Appalachian Trail system as part of a project to protect 836 acres at Hightop Mountain.  The National Park Service now owns the property, which is managed by its Appalachian Trails Office.
  • Restored wetlands and degraded streams at the Forks of the Rivanna, a 155-acre project lying at the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Rivanna River in Albemarle County with the help of the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund.
  • With funding from the Dave Matthews Band, restored native hardwoods at the Forks of the Rivanna.  
  • Expanded Fortune’s Cove Preserve in Nelson County to 1,026 acres.
  • Helped create the new Rivanna River Basin Commission, a collaboration among four local governments to address the threats facing the rivers and streams of the Rivanna River watershed—harboring some of the finest freshwater habitats in the Piedmont.

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