Grant allows for easement projects in Clarke County

Posted: April 23, 2013

Star staff report

BERRYVILLE — State Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech presented $158,807 to the Clarke County Easement Authority on Monday to fund two easement projects that will conserve 208 acres in the locality.

The money — a state grant — will help purchase easements on the 140-acre Chapman Farm, located within the Civil War-era Cool Spring Battlefield, and 68 acres from the Moore & Dorsey orchard. Both properties are located off Harry Byrd Highway (Va. 7) in the eastern section of the county.

Domenech made the presentation on Earth Day.

In December, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced that 12 sites, including the two in Clarke, would share $1.55 million from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation. The funds will add 1,642 acres to Virginia’s conservation land base.

The Chapman Farm received a $98,604 grant in the Historic Areas Category, and the Moore & Dorsey acreage was awarded $60,203 in the Farmlands and Forestry Category.

Part of Chapman Farm is in the Cool Spring Battlefield Historic Park, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This historic piece of property and working farm (Chapman) show how such different pieces of land can be placed under easement,” Domenech said. “Both of these projects will preserve Virginia’s natural landscape in perpetuity.”

Permanent protection of Chapman Farm will enhance efforts by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to place easements on other large portions of Cool Spring Battlefield, McDonnell’s office previously stated. It also will conserve prime farmland and a half-mile of frontage on the Shenandoah River.

The easement also retired four development rights.

The Moore & Dorsey land has been held by those families for more than 50 years. The 68 acres and an additional 800 acres were recently converted to cropland from apple orchards due to a downturn in the apple industry.

The farm uses best-management practices, and a wildlife habitat will be implemented next year using native warm-season grasses, wildflowers and shrubs, the governor’s office stated.

The owners gave up two development rights under the easement.

Clarke County natural resources planner Alison Teetor said the purchase of development rights in both cases involved five funding sources including the county, the federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Act, the Piedmont Environmental Council and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Teetor said the state grants are critical for easement purchases in the county “because it stretches our local dollars much further and provides matching funds for federal grants.”

— Contact the city desk at citydesk@winchesterstar.com