The Capital Region Land Conservancy is central Virginia’s only land trust dedicated solely to serving the City of Richmond and Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, Goochland, Powhatan, New Kent, and Charles City counties. Our mission is to conserve and protect the natural and historic land and water resources of Virginia’s Capital Region for the benefit of current and future generations.
We live in an extraordinary place, unparalleled for its history and remarkably diverse natural resources, where the rolling hills of Virginia’s Piedmont give way to the Coastal Plain. Here in the watersheds of the James and York Rivers, where Native American tribes had already thrived for thousands of years, our nation took hold. While mapping Virginia in 1612, Captain John Smith declared “heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a more perfect place for man’s habitation.” 400 years later, more than one million people call the Capital Region home.
At the Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC), we believe that our future depends upon taking care of what makes the heart of Virginia so special. By balancing growth in our communities with conservation of our natural environment, we can ensure that the places we love will be enjoyed by the generations that follow in our footsteps.
CRLC holds or co-holds 17 conservation easements on 1,957 acres and has been instrumental in the facilitation of another 28 easements on 6,347 acres including over 35 miles of stream and river frontage. Protecting land in our region helps ensure safe drinking water, strong communities,locally grown food, preservation of our historic resources, and habitat for wildlife.
It was a proposal that raised both hopes and doubts: could a local nonprofit land trust raise nearly $7 million dollars to purchase a vulnerable 871-acre farm, site of a historic 1862 Civil War battle, on the outskirts of the fast-growing Richmond region? On February 1, 2018, a year and a half after CRLC greenlighted the ambitious plan, CRLC purchased Malvern Hill Farm in eastern Henrico County’s Varina District along the historic Route 5 corridor. The acquisition protects prime farmland, forests identified by the Department of Conservation and Recreation as highly ranked ecological cores, and nearly three miles of perennial streams.
With a rich history dating to the late 17th century, Malvern Hill Farm is the only documented place in the United States that has seen U.S. troop activity during the three major military conflicts that occurred on American soil. The location was the base for the Marquis de Lafayette during the summer of 1781 and an encampment for the Virginia militia during the War of 1812. The architecturally significant ruins of the first Anglo-American residence, built around 1690, are well preserved. But it is the deadly clash of Union and Confederate forces on July 1, 1862 when the entire property lay behind the Union army’s front infantry line that is forever tied to the farm’s name.
CRLC completed the acquisition of the much sought after property following extensive fundraising,
complex negotiations, and partnership building at the local, state, and federal levels. The purchase was made possible thanks to funding from the Cabell Foundation, the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, the American Battlefield Protection Program, the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund, the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, Henrico County, the James River Association, Virginia Outdoors Foundation and many private donors. The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit based in Arlington, Virginia, provided a $2 million loan to bridge the remaining funds needed for the purchase.
CRLC is in the process of placing a conservation easement to be held by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources on 486 acres of Malvern Hill Farm and transfer much of the land to Henrico County. The property will be open to the public for passive recreation and historical interpretation in the future. A smaller portion of the property will be protected by a conservation easement to be held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and then transferred to the James River Association for a canoe/kayak access to Turkey Island Creek, connecting paddlers to the James River, the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail, and Presquile National Wildlife Refuge. The National Park Service ultimately will take ownership of nearly 400 acres for enlargement of the Richmond National Battlefield Park.
The property had been on the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission’s (CWSAC) Top Ten list of most
threatened battlefields since 1993 and had long been a priority for many conservation organizations.
The CWSAC report identified Malvern Hill as a site with a “critical need for coordinated nationwide action.” CRLC is pleased to be the catalyst for this nationally significant land conservation success.
THANK YOU to all who kept faith in CRLC and contributed to this significant undertaking.
CRLC raised $5.7 million to support this $6.6 million acquisition. This includes two $500,000 challenge grants that will match 1:1 every $1 donated. Can you make a tax-deductible contribution to help us reach our goals? Checks can be made payable to Capital Region Land Conservancy and mail to us at P. O. Box 17306, Richmond, VA 23226. You can also make donations online at www.capitalregionland.org