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Farmland Protection unveils proposed strategic plan

By Staff | Apr 12, 2013

The Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board is pleased to present its proposed strategic plan for the Farmland Protection Program and to invite the public and to comment on the plan.

The Board will offer three public workshops: two on Monday, April 22, at 5:30 p.m. and at 7 p.m., and one on Tuesday, April 23 at 12 p.m. The sessions will be held at the large meeting room in the Jefferson County Public Services Center building at 1948 Wiltshire Road in Kearneysville.

The planning process has been facilitated by the consulting group Solid Ground, which specializes in organizational development for land conservation and agricultural organizations across the nation. To date, hundreds of community members have participated in workshops and surveys to guide the development of the plan.

The Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board determined that, given 10 years of operating experience, it was time to review and assess its programs, policies, and practices to ensure that they are in the best interests of stakeholders and the public, and follow the best management principles for a land conservation organization. The board began the strategic planning process in 2011 to determine its future direction, to seek additional resources for agricultural land conservation and to work with other groups to achieve broad conservation goals.

Funding for the strategic plan is supported by a grant from the West Virginia Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Following the establishment of the plan, the board will share its experience with other farmland protection boards across the state.

Board President Elizabeth

McDonald said, “Thanks to the support of the NRCS, the farmland protection board will be able to launch a comprehensive plan to protect important and productive farmland in the county for future generations.Protecting our county’s farmland in perpetuity secures productive land, protects water supplies and wildlife habitat, strengthens the viability of farming and maintains the rural character and historical landscapes that make Jefferson County such a beautiful place to live and visit.”

The Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board was established under a state law passed in 2000 that allows West Virginia counties to levy a transfer tax on real estate to purchase development rights from landowners who wish to protect their land for agricultural purposes.

An agricultural conservation easement is a voluntary, legally recorded deed restriction that is placed on a specific property used for agricultural production. It is a flexible legal tool that enables landowners to permanently protect the agricultural, natural, scenic and historic values of their property from development and subdivision. Property owners retain full use and ownership of the land. Because an easement is perpetual, it is transferred with the property when the property is sold, thereby ensuring permanent protection. For more information about the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board, call 304-724-1414 or farmlandprotection@jcda.net.