Virginia Governor Ralph Northam recently announced a slate of Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) grants for conserving land throughout the Commonwealth. Thirteen of the projects, totaling $3.64 million, will protect land within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Combined, the VLCF grants support protection of cover 9,100 acres in the watershed, with projects ranging in size from a small city property to a 6,800 acre forest conservation project. The grants–which only reflect the Commonwealth’s contribution to each project, not the total cost–help preserve farmlands, forests, historic resources (like Red Hill Plantation, the home of Patrick Henry), and natural areas, while also expanding public access and recreation.
The conservation projects in the Chesapeake watershed are part of the larger $5.89 million package of VLCF land protection grants issued statewide. “These 17,000 acres of newly-conserved lands will generate tremendous benefits for the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “We are protecting our precious natural resources, building resilience to climate change, and ensuring Virginia remains a great place to live, work, and visit.” Eighty-nine percent of the funded projects are located within ConserveVirginia designated areas, Virginia’s new data-driven land conservation initiative.
The watershed’s portion of the total package represents approximately 62 percent of total funds and 53 percent of total acreage to be conserved. Grant recipients have several years to complete their projects. Final land protection actions, tracked by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, will be added into the comprehensive Chesapeake Bay watershed land protection dataset as they close.
The VLCF grant program is funded by appropriations from the Virginia legislature. State agencies, local governments, public bodies and registered (tax-exempt) nonprofit groups are eligible to receive matching grants from the foundation for state-funded grant rounds. More information is available here.
The VLCF grants represent a portion of the Commonwealth’s annual investments in land conservation. Virginia’s Land Preservation Tax Credit funds up to $75 million in tax credits for donated conservation easements. For more information on state investments in land conservation, see the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership’s 2019 report Marking Milestones: Progress in Conserving Land in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Sustaining land protection funding sources like Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grants is vital to achieving Chesapeake Bay watershed land conservation goals and sustaining and enhancing the quality of life for watershed residents.