The first census of land trusts in five years found 10 million new acres conserved nationwide since 2005, including 1.1 million acres in Virginia, according to a press release from the Western Virginia Land Trust. Virginia ranked fifth nationally in acres conserved and first overall in the southeast.
The National Land Trust Census, released by the Land Trust Alliance, shows that voluntarily protected land increased 27 percent between 2005 and 2010. In the same time period, local land trusts and state agencies added 1,129,787 acres—a 77 percent increase since 2005—despite a recession that has seen a decrease in non-profit giving and state budget cuts. The census is online at www.lta.org/census.
A total of 47 million acres—an area over twice the size of all the national parks in the contiguous United States—are now protected by land trusts. A greater percentage of the new acreage comes through local and state land trusts like the Western Virginia Land Trust (WVLT).
“Virginia residents value their land, and we are conserving it at the community level,” said Roger Holnback, executive director of WVLT. “Here in Virginia, we are investing in our future with land trusts that ensure clean water, local food and places to play for our children and for generations to come.”
Since 2005, WVLT has permanently protected more than 13,300 acres in its 10-county service area surrounding Roanoke. This includes 11,400 acres in Carvins Cove Natural Reserve—the largest city-owned park east of the Rockies—as well as nearly all of Mill Mountain and properties in Roanoke, Franklin, Craig, Bedford, Floyd, and Botetourt counties. WVLT earned national accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance in 2011, providing assurance of quality and permanence of land conservation, and publicly recognizing WVLT’s ability to protect important natural places and working lands forever.