My True Home by Susan Whalton, LTEP “The Mark Eddy...
The Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle completed, either by itself or with one of the Farmland Protection Boards, 49 conservation easements through 2017, protecting over 4800 acres.
Berkeley County – As of the end of 2017, the Land Trust held or co-held with the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board, ten easements, totaling 936 acres. The list included an easement of 70 acres of pasture, a spring, watercress ponds and five homes – three of them historic – donated to the Land Trust in 1997, permanently conserving land that was part of the original land grant conveyed to the Harlan family by Lord Fairfax. In 2004, the Land Trust added two easements totaling 210 acres jointly held with the Berkeley County FPB and two easements totaling 196 acres that were straight donations to the Land Trust. In 2005 it added 138 acres of farmland close to I-81, in an easement jointly held with the Berkeley County FPB. In 2007 it added another 159 acres, and in 2008, 121 acres, all jointly held with the Berkeley County FPB. In 2017 a 30.6-acre donation protects a half mile of steep forested Opequon Creek bank, a forerunner of future easements protecting water quality.
Jefferson County – As of the end of 2017, the Land Trust held 36 easements in Jefferson County, totaling 3607 acres, most jointly held with the Jefferson County FPB. Eight of these benefited from funding from the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) of the National Park Service, arranged by the Land Trust. Five of them protect 301 acres of farmland along the route used by Confederate forces on their way to the 1862 Battle of Antietam in nearby Maryland. Three of those are also in the core area of the Battle of Shepherdstown. The sixth ABPP-funded easement protects 219 acres surrounding Harewood Mansion, originally owned by George Washington’s younger brother Samuel and the site of some key fighting in 1864 Battle of Summit Point in the southern part of the county. The seventh ABPP-funded easement preserves 73 acres of farmland featured in the 1864 battle of Smithfield Crossing. The eighth ABPP funded easement preserves 264 acres surrounding Claymont Mansion built by George Washington’s grand-nephew Bushrod Corbin Washington and also the site of fighting at the beginning of General Sherman’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Of the 28 other Jefferson County easements, 25 benefited from funding from the FPB and two were straight donations. The final Jefferson County easement protects 19 acres along the Potomac River at the center of the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown – land owned by the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission and purchased with funds, in part, from the Civil War Trust and the American Battlefield Protection Program
Morgan County – As of the end of 2017, the Land Trust held 3 easements in Morgan County, totaling 270 acres. Two of the easements held in Morgan County date to 1998 and 2000, before the creation of the Farmland Protection Boards. They total 150 acres and contain oak woods, streams and open meadows, with excellent habitat for wildlife. One of the easements adjoins a large state holding, Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area. The third easement is our first working forestland easement, which totals 100 acres.
Details of these easements are contained in the issues of the Land Trust Newsletter, Landscapes
Easements and Activities in Process
$2.04 Million Secured for Civil War Battlefield Sites
In 2003, the Civil War Preservation Trust arranged for $1,040,000 in funding for acquisition of conservation easements on Civil War battlefields in Jefferson County, and the Land Trust has obtained just over another $1 million subsequently. The money, which comes from the National Park Service under the American Battlefield Protection Program, must be matched by Farmland Protection Board funds or by the donation of the landowner. Through 2018, the Land Trust completed 9 easements covering 876 acres using ABPP funding. Permanently protected under this program is the land around two historic Washington family homes in Jefferson County as well as acreage at the heart of the Battle of Shepherdstown, which was the 1862 clash when Union forces followed Confederate troops across the Potomac River following the Battle of Antietam. There is the possibility of additional funds, since all or part of five Congressionally-recognized Civil War battles were fought in Jefferson County. The property owners will continue to enjoy use of their land for agricultural or any other uses that do not detract from the scenic and historic values being preserved. Donations by the property owners to the Land Trust ensure the perpetual monitoring of these easements at no cost to the Farmland Protection Board or Jefferson County. The participation of the Farmland Protection Board in the conservation easements on these rural properties ensures that they will also receive the low, agricultural tax assessment rate in the future. No development can occur on these lands.