CRLC Forms New Partnership with Outdoor Access

RICHMOND, VA –  Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC) is proud to welcome Richmond-based startup Outdoor Access as its newest strategic partner.

Considered the “Airbnb of outdoor recreation,” Outdoor Access is pioneering a new way to provide public access to private land with an online marketplace that connects landowners with outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Their business model is simple but innovative: landowners lease their property to individuals or groups looking to experience the outdoors for less than $30 per day on average. User groups who may lack access to open, affordable land, such as hunters, fishers, hikers, bikers, campers, etc., can use the booking system to make a reservation on private property. Doing so makes possible their desired outdoor experience while also supporting local landowners and creating a two-way engagement that enhances the land ethic in our community.

The partnership between CRLC and Outdoor Access is strikingly symbiotic, not least because both organizations are committed to preserving and cherishing the natural resources of the Richmond region. CRLC for one has helped protect nearly 12,000 acres of land and water in the Richmond region and is consistently pursuing ways to increase public engagement with these land holdings and conservation easements. A recent Lower Chickahominy Economic Study conducted by PlanRVA and The Richmond Regional Planning District Commission documented how conservation easements not only generated a surplus for Charles City and New Kent Counties but greatly contributed to the local economy through seasonal eco-tourism, campgrounds, and retailers who specifically cater to outdoor enthusiasts. In 2018, about 118 direct jobs were supported by this economic activity that generated almost $8.4 million in regional economic output. Local governments received an estimated $368,000.

Executive Director of CRLC, Parker Agelasto, first began to consider Outdoor Access as a potential partner after the conservancy acquired Malvern Hill Farm and needed to identify means to make the property accessible to the public while also generating revenue to offset carrying costs associated with holding the property until portions could be transferred to the National Park Service.

Jamie Christensen, President and Co-Founder of Outdoor Access, immediately recognized the opportunity inherent in this partnership and is excited to foster new ways of experiencing protected, private property for public benefit. “To protect land from development and preserve the natural landscapes and ecosystems that lie within is undoubtedly beneficial, but in certain cases we can go a step further,” Christensen said. “We want to make sure that people can actually get out there and appreciate the natural and historic wonder for themselves.”

Though public access is not feasible on every CRLC property, Outdoor Access is partnering with CRLC to provide public access and recreation on two remarkable tracts in Henrico County: Malvern Hill Farm and Long Bridge Road.

At Malvern Hill, the partnership has demarcated 354 acres in and around the farm to be used for camping, hiking, and biking. History abounds from the property’s role as a battlefield during the Civil War. Hunting reservations will also be allowed, with the exception of deer hunting with dogs and dove hunting, and a strict prohibition against using lead shot. At the Long Bridge Road property, hunting will be the main recreation focus for 39 acres of the property, also excluding deer hunting with dogs, dove hunting, and use of lead shot.

“It’s likely that Malvern Hill and Long Bridge Road are just the beginning,” said Parker Agelasto of CRLC. “We see this collaboration with Outdoor Access as a tremendous step towards facilitating public use of our land holdings and easements, ultimately allowing for residents and visitors alike to engage with our region’s natural resources in new and exciting ways.”

These opportunities for public access and recreation began June 1st and can be reserved through the Outdoor Access website, www.outdooraccess.com.