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Four farms join program

By Staff | Jan 6, 2012

CHARLES TOWN The Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board added four farms to its protection program during December when the conservation easement documents for the fourth farm were signed by the involved parties recently, according to a news release from the FPB.

A conservation easement allows landowners to permanently protect the agricultural, natural and historic values of their land while allowing the owners to retain full use and ownership rights, according to the release.

“The (FPB) spent a total of $558,500 for the four easements on 387 acres of land, which was matched by $523,500 from the Natural Resource Conservation Service and $185,500 from the American Battlefield Protection Program,” the release stated. “Two landowners’ donations through bargain sales totaled $327,500. The easement value for the 387 acres of farmland is $1,595,000, but was purchased for $1,267,500. The landowners donated 20 percent of the value.”

Overall, the FPB added 12 farms in Jefferson County to the protection program in 2011, and it has protected 3,486 acres of farmland at 36 farms in the county since the program began in 2002, according to FPB Chair Elizabeth Uible.

“We would like to thank our partners and especially the landowners for their partnership in preserving this farmland,” Uible stated in the release. ” This is a tremendous accomplishment, but we still have a long way to go. So many other farms are ready to join the program, and we need to continue to raise funds to help preserve these important working lands for generations to come.”

While the FPB purchased the easements, with help from the ABPP for one farm added in December, the Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle is a co-holder on the easements, according to the release.

“We are pleased to join with the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board in completing so many easements this year,” stated LTEP President Grant Smith in the release. “We welcomed the decision by several of the landowners to donate a portion of the easement value, thereby stretching the Farmland Protection Board money to cover more easements, and hope that this trend will continue in 2012.”

Protecting farmland in the county “productive land, protects water supplies and wildlife habitat, strengthens the viability of farming and maintains the scenic and historical landscapes that make Jefferson County such a beautiful place to live and visit,” according to FPB Administrator Elizabeth Wheeler.

“My farm has been in the family since 1939 and now I am thankful to have it in the Farmland Preservation program. I can rest assured that the farm will not be developed in the years ahead, so it can continue within the family, going to my children and then my grandchildren to carry on,” stated John Writt, owner of a 69-acre piece of property near Shepherdstown, in the release.

The FPB has secured commitments and funding to add an additional 147 acres to the protection program, and there are 966 acres being considered for the 2012 funding cycle, according to the release.

Additional information on the JCFPB is available by contacting Wheeler at the Jefferson County Development Authority at 304-728-3255.