JOIN THE CONVERSATION
"LAND, PEOPLE, AND COMMUNITY:
A Sand County Almanac Revisited"
Sunday, September 17th 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
REI Community Room
2020 Old Brick Road
Glen Allen, VA 23060
Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of Aldo Leopold's death and the completion of A Sand County Almanac, the seminal appeal for a land ethic that has inspired generations of conservationists. As a member of Virginia's United Land Trusts (VaULT) we are participating in their initiative--in cooperation with the Virginia Dept. of Forestry and the Aldo Leopold Foundation--to return to Leopold's work for guidance as we foster a conservation ethic within our communities for the sake of our land, our water, and our future.
Join CRLC and local leaders for a screening of the documentary Green Fire, readings from Leopold's A Sand County Almanac, and a conversation about how we can bring his legacy to life in the Richmond region.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New Conservation Easement creates 6-acre wooded buffer to Joseph Bryan Park in Henrico County
DATE: April 21, 2016
RICHMOND, VA - Five years ago, members of the Friends of Bryan Park (FOBP) were facing the seeming inevitability of development of the Shirley subdivision in Henrico County adjacent to the forested section of the park near the Nature Center and Environmental Education Area. In 1924, the land had been divided into fourteen lots as part of the Shirley subdivision, but had remained mostly undisturbed through the decades. Suddenly, in 2012, a development proposal intended to build 40 modular houses on roughly 6.5 acres, clear-cutting the forest there and creating a dense neighborhood tucked into a dead end. John and Bucci Zeugner, and many members of Friends of Bryan Park were determined to change the property’s fate. Today their vision became a reality with the recording of a conservation easement on the land they bought to permanently protect.
The Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC) and the Henricopolis Soil and Water Conservation District (HSWCD) co-hold the easement. CRLC will provide ongoing stewardship with annual monitoring visits. Mr. and Mrs. Zeugner, as the property’s owners, retain all rights of ownership except those expressly prohibited by the easement, primarily residential development and industrial or commercial uses.
”Easements in urban and suburban areas are uniquely challenging and the Zeugners have dedicated years of effort to creating this legacy. Their determination to protect a treasured City Park and actually add to it is an inspiration,” said CRLC Land Conservation Manager Jane Myers.
Under Virginia’s Conservation Easement Act, a conservation easement is a voluntary act of the property owner and must be compatible with the locality’s comprehensive plan. Henrico County’s 2026 Comprehensive Plan lists as an objective the identification and protection of “areas with intrinsic natural, historical, or cultural resources” and encourages “protection of natural and historic resources by the private sector.” It also “encourages the preservation of private open space by supporting the use of conservation and open space easements.”
The 6.5 acres of undeveloped land, now permanently protected by a conservation easement, drains into Upham Brook, a tributary of the Chickahominy River listed as “impaired” by Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality. “Maintaining the stands of mature, mixed hardwood trees and understory can only help Upham Brook,” noted HSWCD director Nicole Anderson-Ellis. “Nothing is better for water quality than forested buffers around our streams.”
The 6.5-acre parcel also provides a 600-foot wide buffer zone along a 500-foot long portion of the northwestern boundary of Joseph Bryan Park which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This important forested buffer sustains habitat for the park's existing wildlife populations without the threat of encroachment.
Since 1994, Friends of Bryan Park has been committed to the preservation and improvement of Joseph Bryan Park for use as a public park for all citizens. Belle Stewart Bryan and her sons purchased the 262-acre “Rosewood” farm and donated it to the City of Richmond as a memorial park to her late husband. Reflecting the “City Beautiful” movement and the “rustic aesthetic” of the National Park Service, Joseph Bryan Park established “a naturalistic landscape that afforded visitors a retreat from the City.” (City Annual Report, 1918).
Parker Agelasto, Executive Director of the Capital Region Land Conservancy said, “In the spirit of Belle Bryan, the Zeugners’ efforts demonstrate that conservation easements, today, aren’t just for large farms and forests in rural areas. They are also a valuable tool for conserving natural resources on private property in urban and suburban areas. They can connect to rivers and streams, parks and valuable open-space, and expand access and protection to wilderness and habitat conservation areas.”
Malvern Hill Farm and site of Civil War battle Under Contract, $2 Million in Funding Commitments Secured
To further its mission to protect the natural and historic land and water resources of Virginia’s Capital Region for the benefit of current and future generations, the Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC) has entered into a contract to purchase Malvern Hill Farm for the appraised value of $6,562,000. The property consists of 875 +/- acres in Henrico County and Charles City County and is owned by descendants of William Heighler Ferguson Sr. (1885-1984) who originally purchased Malvern Hill Farm in 1939.
The Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places first listed Malvern Hill in 1969, recognizing its role in Virginia and United States history dating to the late 17th Century. Thomas Cocke (1639-1697) built the first Anglo-American residence there about 1690 and the architecturally significant ruins are well preserved today. The Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) encamped on the property in the summer of 1781 and the Virginia Militia also made camp there during the War of 1812.
But the name “Malvern Hill” is more strongly associated with a climactic moment in the American Civil War when the entire property lay behind the front infantry line of the Union army during the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862. This deadly clash of armies ended with 5,650 Confederate and 2,100 Union casualties, bringing the Seven Days Battle and the Peninsula Campaign to a close and prompting President Abraham Lincoln to draft the Emancipation Proclamation.
According to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Malvern Hill Farm ranks as “very high” in its vulnerability model. In 1993, the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission listed Malvern Hill in the Top 10 of Virginia’s battlefields that are highly threatened. Despite its proximity to downtown Richmond and development pressures in the Varina district of Henrico County, the property has remained mostly unaltered in appearance since 1862.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s soil maps show Malvern Hill Farm contains nearly 400 acres of prime farmland and more than 150 acres of “farmland of statewide significance.” Coupled with the “very high” ranking on Virginia’s Forest Economics Model as well as DCR’s evaluation of Ecological Cores and habitats of endangered species, the property is a priority for land conservation.
The National Park Service (NPS) has long sought portions of Malvern Hill Farm for inclusion in the Richmond National Battlefield Park. The United States Congress has approved roughly 443 acres in its legislatively authorized boundary for the park. “Acquisition and preservation of this farm would be a critical step forward in ensuring the long term integrity of such an historic place” noted David Ruth, Superintendent of the Richmond National Battlefield Park. DCR specifically names Malvern Hill in its Virginia Outdoors Plan for provision of public access with walking and biking trails and a Turkey Island Creek canoe/kayak launch to reach the James River, the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail and the Presquile National Wildlife Refuge. Likewise, nearly 2 miles of the Virginia Capital Trail along scenic Route 5 passes by and/or traverses Malvern Hill Farm.
The Capital Region Land Conservancy has secured more than $2 million in funding towards this important acquisition. This includes $687,500 from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF), $400,000 from the Virginia Battlefields Preservation Fund (VBPF), $500,000 as a two-to-one challenge grant from The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, and $500,000 as a two-to-one challenge grant from the Cabell Foundation. CRLC is actively applying for other grants and seeking private donations to support this important acquisition. The Conservation Fund is also considering financing for the project.
In September, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the awarding of the VLCF grant to CRLC citing the Malvern Hill project’s protection of “Virginia’s biodiversity, history and way of life while enhancing public access to our natural resources.”
Director of Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources, Julie V. Langan, awarded the VBPF grant in November and commended CRLC for its “dedication and commitment to protecting important Civil War Battlefields for the future of Virginia and the nation.”
“In one transaction CRLC is taking a giant step in protecting the natural and historic land and water resources of our region” said Parker C. Agelasto, Executive Director of Capital Region Land Conservancy. “Malvern Hill Farm represents a significant opportunity to conserve prime farmland, native forests, nearly three miles of perennial streams, and more than 325 years of history while also opening the property to public access for outdoor recreation. I am delighted that CRLC could be the champion to lead a multifaceted effort to permanently protect this property forever.”
"The tremendous national, state, and local support for this purchase validates Malvern Hill's worth, not as real estate, but as a treasured place in our history and in our present day lives", said CRLC founder and Board president Bill Greenleaf.
Brian Watson, CRLC’s Vice President, said "we are excited to continue to lead conservation efforts in our area and be able to protect this historically significant property for generations to come."
The consortium of organizations assisting CRLC in the acquisition of Malvern Hill Farm include American Civil War Museum Foundation, Chesapeake Conservancy, Civil War Trust, James River Association, Richmond Battlefields Association, Richmond National Battlefield Park, and Virginia Capital Trail Foundation. Donations to support the acquisition of Malvern Hill Farm and contribute toward the challenge grants should be made payable to the Capital Region Land Conservancy and mailed to P.O. Box 17306, Richmond VA 23226.
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