Preserving our state has always been important to me. In fact, I was a leader in introducing Conservation Easement to our area, a program where the state buys the developmental rights while the landowner still maintains the title to the land. This lowers the cost for the owner but limits their ability to develop on it, thereby conversing the area. By taking the concepts generated in the Land Conservation Easement method, the General Assembly and I increased its effectiveness by combining it with tax credits in 1999. After this tax credit bill went into effect, land preservation in Virginia exploded! The result — Virginia has increased land preservation by 583%!
That’s why it pleases me to hear that a new Land Trust Alliance report revealed that land trusts in Virginia conserved more land between 2005 and 2010 than any other state in the Southeast! Between those years the Virginia Outdoors Foundation conserved 314,225 acres alone while private land trusts conserved another 78,678 acres. That works out to about seven acres preserved every hour!
These efforts are extremely important in the preservation of our nation’s land and I’m proud that Virginia can be a leader in these efforts!