My True Home by Susan Whalton, LTEP “The Mark Eddy...
Conservation easements are an important protection for our water resources (watch more here) conserving both water quality and quantity, and reduces run off that causes flooding. Over 40% of our easements are adjacent to or have streams or springs on them. They all facilitate the percolation of precipitation into the ground water system. As we look to the future and our climate changes, conservation easements will help preserve our community resources, natural landscape, open space and water quantity and quality. We can expect to be more resilient as a community and to maintain our quality of life.
In 2017 under the auspices of West Virginia Rivers, a state organization, an effort was started to begin a collaborative, organizations and people, working together to address water quality and water quantity issues in the Eastern Panhandle. Funding from the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program has helped to establish the collaborative. The Potomac River Watershed is a major water resource in the mid-Atlantic Region and in the Eastern Panhandle.
The Safe Water Conservation Collaborative is a model of how to bring together people and organizations both private and public with diverse knowledge, expertise and perspective to work together. Sharing data and information about our community, watersheds, and region, allow us to tackle issues in a holistic way. The Land Trust Board is taking an active role in support of the Collaborative. In 2004 the early Board of Directors realized the importance of clustering easements to enhance protection of streams and magnify the size of the protected landscape. They selected Rattle Snake Run in Jefferson County and clustered 5 easements on it. Today there are 7 easements, one which protects 7 springs, the head water of Rattle Snake Run, a tributary of the Potomac River, an important water resource for the Panhandle.
As we began, the Land Trust was all volunteers, so we are 25 years later, all volunteers. Our goal is to continue to gift the Legacy we were given to the future generations. Looking to the future our emphasis will be on protecting water resources, agricultural land, landscapes, ecosystems, culture and history of our area. Also, looking to the future, clustering of easements will continue to be a goal. With the technical capabilities and diverse data that are available, we can identify priorities where conservation easements would be important for sustaining our resources, preserving our natural beauty, and maintaining our quality of life.
The pandemic has taught us the value of the natural landscape thanks to landowners of our community, who over the past 25 years have preserved the beauty for all of us to enjoy (watch more here). To be able to leave the isolation of our homes and go outside to enjoy the fresh air and beauty of the natural landscape that is the Eastern Panhandle — it is priceless!