My True Home by Susan Whalton, LTEP “The Mark Eddy...
Having demonstrated the importance of conservation easements in protecting the land, in 2000 the Land Trust championed along with a group of Berkeley and Jefferson County citizens and State Senator John Unger the authorization of Farmland Protection Boards (FPB) in West Virginia to preserve farmland. Berkeley and Jefferson Counties established Farmland Protection Boards and the Land Trust provided $1000 to each to start. Two years later funding was authorized for the FPBs from the real estate transfer tax, and they could access matching funds from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Today there are Farmland Protection Boards in the three Eastern Panhandle counties. In 2004, The Land Trust became a focal point for the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) (within the Department of Interior) to protect the Civil War Battlefields in Jefferson County. This partnership has continued for a decade.
For the past 16 years working in partnership with the Jefferson and Berkeley FPBs, and the American Battlefield Protection Program and the past 7 years with the Jefferson County Historic Land Marks Commission, plus the easements donated to the Land Trust, 50 conservation easements have been put in place protecting 4837 acres of land that contains the heritage, culture, and beauty of the Eastern Panhandle.
Consistent with preservation is an opportunity for habitat restoration. For the past few years, we have promoted cooperation with the Potomac Valley Audubon Society (watch more here) to use conservation easements as an opportunity to implement some of PVAS habitat conservation programs, such as the Grass Land Bird Initiative, to encourage delay in mowing fields to allow grassland habitat to be available for bird nesting. Also building a chimney swift tower in an area where chimneys of a historic house were closed and no longer available for them.