Why does the Richmond Region need a local land trust?

400 years of history testify to the Richmond region’s pivotal role in the establishment and endurance of our state and our nation. The course of the James River and the course of the United States have intertwined since 1619 when the Virginia Legislature first met. 160 years later the Capitol moved to the city settled at the Falls of the James, surrounded by an abundance of natural resources and beauty. Today the seven counties ringing Richmond continue to attract 21st century settlers, making the capital area one of the three fastest growing regions in Virginia.

But those resources no longer seem boundless and can only support our communities in the future if we manage them wisely. At the current rate of development, more land will be consumed here in the next twenty years than in the previous 400 years. This is a trend that threatens our prosperity, our quality of life, and our health and that - if continued unabated - will leave to our children a world of diminished opportunity.


The Capital Region Land Conservancy is dedicated to a more balanced vision for our region’s future. Ensuring that our cities, suburbs, towns, and rural areas all thrive requires an integrated approach to conservation. The Capital Region Land Conservancy fills a gap in conservation services not met by the many important organizations active in Richmond and the surrounding counties. CRLC stands alone in its singular focus on the Richmond region and its mission to provide education and support to property owners who want to make the stewardship of their land a gift to their communities and to future generations through the donation of permanent conservation easements.


Public Benefits of Land Conservation

How does preserving private land help a whole community? Without land conservation, we cannot be assured of having food from local farms, clean drinking water, safe swimming, and thriving wildlife. Land conservation is a primary strategy for restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the destination for all of our streams and rivers. Conservation easements help to buffer historic places from encroaching development, preserve viewsheds along rivers and scenic byways, and maintain the diversity of our rural and urban communities.

Water Quality

The Richmond region lies within the watershed of the Chesapeake Bay, the United States' largest estuary. Our rivers — the North Anna, South Anna, Pamunkey, Chickahominy, James, and Appomatox — supply public water to over 500,000 people in the Richmond area. The health of our waterways is influenced by the land that drains into them:

  • Natural areas act as filters for storm water run-off, preventing sediment and pollutants from reaching streams and rivers and allowing groundwater sources to recharge.
  • Urban run-off is one of the primary sources of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, creating widespread “dead zones” that cannot support aquatic life.
  • Run-off from developed areas is 16 times greater than run-off from natural areas, greatly increasing the chance of flooding.
  • Protecting land in our watershed ensures clean drinking water for our families as well as healthy rivers and streams for recreation and fishing.

Locally Sourced Food

Agriculture has been a mainstay of our region’s economy since its settlement over 400 years ago, and today farmers’ markets, direct sales, and grocery stores are responding to growing demand for locally produced food. CRLC’s service area is home to at least thirteen farmer’s markets and six CSA’s/Coop’s. More than 80% of our nearly 1,800 farms are independently or family-owned and operated, but between 2002 and 2007 land in farming decreased by almost 12%. The future of this most essential locally-based economy depends on conserving our most productive agricultural lands so that farmers have the land they need.

Wildlife Habitat

Our region is rich in wildlife habitat and ecological resources. The Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation has identified over 100 high value locations in the Richmond area. These places, known as Natural Heritage sites, are notable for rare plant or animal species, vulnerable aquatic ecosystems, intact core habitat, significant natural communities, or geological features. Most of these sites are unprotected and on privately owned land. Conservation of these sites will protect these resources for future generations.


Our History

Archaeological ruins of the earliest Americans… Our nation’s first Thanksgiving at Berkeley Plantation… Patrick Henry’s Liberty or Death speech in St. John’s Church in Richmond… The great test of our young republic through the bloody Civil War…

The history of our region is the history of our country, and more than 300 properties in the CRLC service area are listed on the National and Virginia landmarks registers. While many of our best known historic places are under legal protection, others are on private land and are vulnerable. Conservation easements can protect these sites and their surroundings.


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