By Jamal Childs, Chesapeake Conservation and Climate Corps member
Over the next year, CCP will be gathering a suite of success stories to celebrate our partners’ great projects and progress in conservation. As the new Chesapeake Conservation and Climate Corps member, I will be helping to create videos, web content, and clips of some of the best recent projects around the watershed as part of my Capstone Project.
My goal is to create a series of stories that deliver the overall message about the importance of conservation and partnership. The Moulton Park video and accompanying article below is just an example of what we can do. If you are interested in having a success story magnified, please fill out this short form and we’ll be in touch.
Moulton Park video clip by Jamal Childs
Family’s Decision to Conserve 82-Acre Farm Expands Moulton Park: A Tale of Conservation and Community
In an era when urban sprawl and development relentlessly encroach upon the natural world, a shining example of conservation and community collaboration emerges along the banks of the Shenandoah River in Jefferson County, West Virginia. It was here that the Moulton family’s remarkable act of generosity resulted in the addition of 82 acres of pristine farmland, forest and riverfront to Moulton Park, not merely preserving a piece of family heritage, but expanding it for the benefit of the entire community.
This endeavor, realized through a “bargain sale,” was made possible by a collective effort involving the Moulton family, Chesapeake Conservancy, West Virginia Land Trust, and Jefferson County Parks & Recreation (JCPRC), bolstered by substantial support from the West Virginia Outdoor Heritage Conservation Fund.
The Moulton Legacy: A Stewardship of the Land
The Moulton family’s connection to this land runs deep, stretching back four generations. They donated the original three acres of Moulton Park to JCPRC in 1976 to ensure ongoing public access and recreation. Nearly 50 years later, the family’s generosity continued, and the June 2023 bargain sale of their adjacent 82-acre farm has now expanded Moulton Park. The family added conservation goals, stipulating that the land be managed for watershed protection, education, native species protection and soil and forest regeneration, in addition to the family’s legacy of creating recreation opportunities and public access.
Their 82-acre farm, nestled along the picturesque Shenandoah River, was a crucial element in the growth of the family’s conservation ethic. What started as a beautiful piece of property became a cherished part of their identity and a treasured resource to preserve for others to enjoy. Over nearly eight decades, it served as a home, a business and a sanctuary and also welcomed many gatherings. In the process, it became a canvas for countless memories. Yet, as the inexorable march of development loomed, the Moulton family faced a pivotal decision—whether to sell their land for potential development or to take a principled stand for conservation. Their decision to choose the latter demonstrates an unwavering commitment to preserving not only their family’s heritage but also the natural beauty and ecological resources of this region.
“We worked with Chesapeake Conservancy to permanently protect our 82-acre farm in Jefferson County, West Virginia. We deeply appreciate the extensive knowledge, skills, and experience the Conservancy brings to protecting the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed and are very grateful for their support and guidance. Four generations of our family have had the privilege of calling this beautiful piece of land home,” said Brucie Moulton. “We have all loved the place immensely and none of us could bear the idea of development, however profitable it might have been.”
Photo by Virginia Johnstone
A Bargain Sale for Conservation
Conserving an 82-acre farm is a monumental task, and such endeavors often require collaboration with a diverse array of stakeholders. In this case, the Moulton family, cognizant of the broader implications of their decision, engaged with regional as well as local conservation organizations and government entities to achieve their vision. At the heart of this collaborative effort was the concept of a “bargain sale,” wherein the property was sold at a price below its fair.
Photo by Marielle Scott/ Chesapeake Bay Program with aerial support by South Wings
Partnerships That Made a Difference
Several key partners played pivotal roles in this noble endeavor:
West Virginia Land Trust
The West Virginia Land Trust, with its deep roots in conservation, on-the-ground knowledge and years of experience conserving land in West Virginia provided invaluable support throughout the process and will hold a permanent conservation easement on the property. Their dedication to preserving the state’s natural beauty and biodiversity is a driving force in safeguarding this land for future generations.
Jefferson County Parks & Recreation (JCPRC)
JCPRC recognized the potential of the expanded Moulton Park to provide much-needed additional recreational opportunities to the community. Their collaboration in securing the property and their commitment to maintaining it as both a recreational and a conservation asset exemplify their dedication to serving the community’s needs.
Chesapeake Conservancy worked closely with the family and helped navigate the intricate landscape of conservation easements, land appraisals and legal agreements. Their involvement helped ensure the long-term legal validity of the conservation effort.
West Virginia Outdoor Heritage Conservation Fund
A notable contribution coming from the West Virginia Outdoor Heritage Conservation Fund in the form of a substantial grant. This financial support played a crucial role in making the acquisition a reality, highlighting the commitment of the community for conservation.
4th Generation Family Member, Emma Moulton Huvos
Photo by Virginia Johnston
Expanding Moulton Park: A Gift to the Community
The conservation of the Moulton farm is much more than just a victory for the Moulton family; it’s a gift to the entire community. This expansion of Moulton Park brings with it a multitude of benefits:
1. Enhanced Recreation Opportunities
With the addition of these acres, Moulton Park grew substantially in size and diversity. It now offers more space for hiking, picnicking, birdwatching and a host of other low-impact outdoor activities. Families, nature enthusiasts, and residents will gain access to an even more expansive and varied natural playground.
2. Preservation of Wildlife Habitat
Expanding the park’s boundaries is a boon to local wildlife. These protected acres provide critical habitats for a wide array of species. By promoting coexistence between humans and wildlife, this expansion offers a unique opportunity to observe and appreciate the Shenandoah Valley’s natural inhabitants.
3. Water Quality Protection
The Shenandoah River is a vital resource for the region, and the conservation of the Moulton farm contributes to safeguarding its water quality. By avoiding the potential pollution associated with development, this expansion helps secure the river’s health for generations to come.
4. Educational Opportunities
With the increased acreage comes the potential for expanded educational programs. Schools, community groups and individuals now have more space to learn about local ecology, participate in conservation efforts and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of preserving natural spaces.
A Testament to Conservation’s Power
The Moulton family’s decision to conserve their 82-acre farm stands as a testament to the enduring power of conservation and the potential of community collaboration. In a world where open spaces are vanishing at an alarming rate, their commitment serves as an inspiration to all who may find themselves at the crossroads of preservation and development. The Moulton family reminds us that, with dedication and partnerships, we can secure the beauty and ecological vitality of our cherished landscapes for generations yet unborn.
The conservation of these 82 acres along the Shenandoah River represents more than just an expansion of a park; it signifies the preservation of a legacy, the protection of nature and the enhancement of community well-being. It is a shining example of what can be achieved when individuals, organizations and communities unite in the noble pursuit of conservation.
- Jefferson County Parks and Recreation
- Virginia Johnston
- Marielle Scott/ South Wings
Lightning Update is a regular communication of the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions of the Partnership or member organizations.
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Support for the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership is provided by:
National Park Service Chesapeake
EPA Chesapeake Bay Program
USDA Forest Service
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Virginia Outdoors Foundation
US Fish & Wildlife Service