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Conservation group’s national accreditation renewed

A conservation group that helps preserve land in Northern Virginia and the Fredericksburg area had its national accreditation renewed.

The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust spent a year working on the renewal granted by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

“We are just beyond thrilled,” Peggy Stevens, the trust’s executive director, said Monday.

The trust was initially accredited five years ago, the first such group in Virginia to do so, Stevens said.

The private, nonprofit group works with landowners and government to protect land in urban and rural areas.

Locally, the trust holds four conservation easements, totaling 384 acres, in Stafford County and Fredericksburg, according to the organization.

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a land trust to permanently protect natural, scenic and cultural resources on the property. In return for giving up development rights, private landowners receive a tax break.

The trust also owns a 70-acre great blue heron nesting site next to Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in eastern Stafford, plus another 53 acres in various areas of the county.

Paul Milde, Stafford supervisor who represents the Aquia District where Crow’s Nest is located, praised the trust for helping to “actually save open space.”

“They really have their heart in the right place,” he said.

Stevens said what the trust does is not only important for wildlife and the environment, but also people.

“We see the importance of protecting natural spaces and open spaces,” she said.

In a news release, Patrick Coady, chairman for the trust’s board of directors, said the accreditation plays a key role in what they do.

“The trust welcomed accreditation five years ago and we are pleased to be recognized again in our 20th anniversary year,” he said. “Renewal of accreditation is important in our work with landowners, and in our relationships with government partners, conservation easement donors and contributors.”

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436


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