Over the past two weeks, the Middleburg-based Land Trust of Virginia has recorded four conservation easements that will permanently protect a combined 382 acres from development in Loudoun, Fauquier and Rappahannock counties.
The four newly recorded easements include 205 acres in Loudoun County, according to organization officials.
One of the easements, owned by Bradley and Tandy Bondi, is a 145-acre property within the Mosby Heritage area in Middleburg. The Mosby Heritage Area Association provided the Land Trust of Virginia with $1,000 toward the landowners' cost of the easement.
The property contains 74 acres of forested land, 126 acres of important farmland soils, 13 acres of wetlands and is within the Goose Creek Watershed. More than 45 percent of the property – or 66 acres – is located within the Unison Battlefield Historic District.
“This property has historic significance. There were Civil War skirmishes during the Battle of Unison on the property, and there are active accounts of the battles here,” said Ashton Cole, director of conservation and stewardship at the Land Trust of Virginia.
Another property now under conservation easement is owned by Lowell Pratt, Jr. and Mary Pratt. Located in Unison in western Loudoun, the nearly 60-acre property is adjacent to two other easements and is in the North Fork of the Goose Creek Watershed District. 93 percent of the property's soils are defined as “prime farmland.”
Within three miles of the Pratt property, there are 66 conservation easements, 25 of which are held by the Land Trust of Virginia, with most of the remaining being held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, according to Cole.
“These landowners were interested in conserving their properties, and this is the best way to protect land. This is important in the context of larger success stories and our decades-long efforts,” Cole added.
The Land Trust of Virginia holds 180 conservation easements totaling 19,761 acres throughout 15 counties in the commonwealth.
Land Trust Stewardship Manager Isa Bryant said the properties also have significant scenic value for the public.
“Protecting the scenic view of a property is part of why people love visiting western Loudoun. Getting to drive down the gravel roads and taking a deep relaxing breath ... conservation easements protect that for everyone for all generations to come,” Bryant said.