The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation has announced a record $14.9 million in grant awards from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation – funding that will help conserve just under 14,000 acres throughout the commonwealth.
A total of 40 projects will receive financial support, including acquisitions of land for new local parks and recreation areas, and conservation easements to protect working forestland.
Grants were awarded in five categories: farmland preservation, forest preservation, historic preservation, natural-area protection, and open spaces and parks.
“The board of the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation is excited to make the most of this record funding and focus on significant land-conservation efforts that will protect our natural resources,” said Travis Voyles, acting secretary of Natural and Historic Resources.
Voyles chairs the VLCF board, which approved the grants at its Nov. 14 meeting.
“Through these new local parks and recreation areas, Virginians will have more opportunities for outdoor recreation such as public access to waterways, fishing – and even elk viewing,” he said.
Matthew Wells, director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, said the agency “looks forward to working with the local governments, state agencies, private land trusts and Virginian Indian tribes on these important efforts to protect the natural environment. Along with improving our water quality, biodiversity and protecting scenic viewsheds, the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation program helps to enhance outdoor experiences for all Virginians.”
Under new state legislation, the fiscal year 2023 grant round was the first time federally or state-recognized Indian tribes were eligible to apply.
The Rappahannock Tribe of Virginia was awarded a grant for 703 acres of culturally significant forest adjacent to its riverfront acreage. The tribe is named for the Rappahannock River, its ancestral homeland.
The Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe will receive a grant for 866 acres that includes shoreline along the tribe’s namesake river, the Mattaponi, in King William County. The tribe plans to establish a fish hatchery and offer public recreational opportunities including river access and trails.
VLCF board members are appointed by the governor, the Senate and the House of Delegates. The board includes the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. DCR provides staff support to the board.
The full list of the fiscal year 2023 VLCF awards can be found at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/ under “Land Conservation.”