3,000 Acres Conserved Next to Fort A.P. Hill (VA)

FORT A.P. HILL, VA, 6/9/2009: Nearly 3,000 acres of land has been conserved next to one of the largest military installations on the East Coast, Fort A.P. Hill. The land was protected by a coalition of conservation and historic preservation groups and agencies working to conserve land along the Rappahannock River and adjacent to Fort A.P. Hill. These conservation achievements will serve as a buffer for the military installation, safeguarding the installation’s training mission while preserving valuable wildlife habitat and sensitive natural, historic, and cultural resources, including Camden Farm, a National Historic Landmark.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) today announced the protection effort with its partners after three years of collaboration.

Formed in 2006, The Fort A.P. Hill Army Compatible Use Buffer Partnership protected the 3,000 acres under the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program. At nearly 76,000 acres, Fort A.P. Hill is one of the largest military installations on the East Coast, partially located in Caroline County, the third fastest growing county in Virginia. The ACUB program allows Fort A.P. Hill to partner with agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to share the cost of acquiring conservation easements from willing landowners whose properties are located within designated ACUB priority areas.

Under a conservation easement, the landowner retains legal title to the land and the ability to maintain its current use, while limiting future land use and development options. Urban and suburban development has become a challenge for military installations nationwide. Incompatible land uses-primarily residential developments-close to an installation’s boundary can limit training and other military operations.

In addition to creating a buffer of open space around Fort A.P. Hill, the ACUB program preserves habitat and resources. Many of the partnership’s priority areas for protection complement the goals and objectives of the nearby Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, established primarily to preserve habitat for bald eagles and other migratory birds.

TPL helped establish the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge in 1996 and has protected eight properties totaling 4,240 acres and completed two easements covering an additional 1,752 acres.

The Fort A.P. Hill ACUB program is a partnership with federal and state agencies, along with multiple NGOs. Partners include Fort A.P. Hill, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Virginia Outdoors Foundation, The Trust for Public Land, The Conservation Fund, and The Nature Conservancy, and others.

In 2008, the partnership completed four conservation easements that protect nearly 3,000 acres. The Trust for Public Land protected 432 acres along Baylors Creek and Portage Run and The Nature Conservancy protected 1,805 acres along the Rappahannock River. Both easements are held by Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

The Conservation Fund facilitated two easements at Camden National Historic Landmark. Protection of the Camden Farm is the highest priority for the partnership. One easement – granted to both Virginia Outdoors Foundation and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources-preserves 500 acres that contain the site of a 17th century American Indian community. This easement also serves as a groundbreaking and creative element of a comprehensive mitigation package approved by the Department of Historic Resources and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in order to offset cultural impacts at Fort A. P. Hill. An adjacent 182 acres is protected through a second easement, held by Virginia Outdoors Foundation.