The Bay Journal reports The Conservation Fund and landowner Terrell Bowers confirmed last week that Bowers’ 250 acre property on Fones Cliffs is under contract for conservation. Bowers had approval to develop the property into 47 residential housing units and, more recently, was seeking a re-zoning to allow 10-story condominiums.
Fones Cliffs is a significant cultural and scenic landscape along the Rappahannock River. It lies within the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge and along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. The cliffs also lie in the heart of a globally-significant Important Bird Area, designated for their value to the Bald Eagle and other migratory birds. Bowers property is one of two adjacent Fones Cliffs parcels that have been threatened by development for several years.
Heather Richards indicated to Bay Journal that The Conservation Fund expects to close on the Bowers property by the end of the year. The Fund then intends to sell the land to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as an addition to the national wildlife refuge. The Service has sought to conserve Fones Cliffs for some time.
Both The Conservation Fund and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are members of the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership. Efforts by the Partnership to highlight conservation of Fones Cliffs through the Rivers of the Chesapeake LWCF Collaborative have helped secure Land and Water Conservation Fund monies that will ultimately support the acquisition.