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2012 Conservation Easements Protected 1,500 Acres in Albemarle - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

2012 Conservation Easements Protected 1,500 Acres in Albemarle

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Thousands of acres throughout central Virginia are being protected from new developments.

Numbers have just been released showing the 2012 conservation easements. In Albemarle County alone, 1,500 acres were added to the protected land list. The easements are protecting scenic byways, stream buffers and stopping development in rural areas.

The conservation easements are agreements between landowners and land trusts. Both agree to permanently protect natural and cultural resources on the land.

"What we're doing with the conservation easement is essentially removing the subdivision and development potential associated with that land," said Rex Linville, land conservation officer for the Piedmont Environmental Council.

The Piedmont Environmental Council, the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and the Albemarle County Acquisition of Conservation Easements (ACE) program pulled in the 1,500 conservation easements.

"In Albemarle County, we have an astonishing 18 percent of our acres are protected in some way," said Ann Mallek, Albemarle County supervisor.

That 18 percent is 88,000 acres in Albemarle County. Linville says the conservation easements help keep county water clean.

"Stream corridors are often also protected from degradation by livestock, trying to preserve vegetated buffers along those stream corridors," he said.

The abundance of conservation easements makes Albemarle County the second most protected county in the commonwealth. Linville says landowners can benefit from putting a conservation easement on their property through tax incentives.

Fauquier, Orange, Culpeper and Rappahannock counties also racked up high numbers of protected land in 2012.

The Albemarle County ACE program is looking for people interested in conservation easements. They are accepting applications until April 30.

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