CRLC Easement Protects Prime Agricultural Farmland in Henrico County

RICHMOND, VA –  Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC) recently recorded a conservation easement on 49 acres off Osborne Turnpike in Henrico County. The easement, held by CRLC, guarantees that the land will be protected in perpetuity thanks to the forethought and generosity of landowner Randy Welch of Varina. This easement is important because the entire property is identified in ConserveVirginia as being amongst Virginia’s highest conservation value lands based on a targeted, data-driven approach. In fact, of the seven ConserveVirginia categories the property ranks in the top 10% of areas categorically valued as Agriculture & Forestry, Floodplains & Flooding Resilience, Cultural & Historic Preservation, and Scenic Preservation.

A review of the conservation values shows that this latest easement by CRLC is a testimony to the multi-faceted benefits of conservation, from protecting farmland and safeguarding regional food security to preparing for climate change and preserving our history. Below is an illustration of how this special property in Henrico County provides a spectacular array of benefits to our region thanks to it being conserved in perpetuity.

Agriculture & Forestry. In a county where 65% of the farmland has been converted over the past 40 years, with less than 10,000 acres remaining and an average farm size of just 99 acres, this 49-acre farm will preserve working lands. More importantly, the conservation easement is safeguarding 20 acres of Prime Farmland and 12 acres of Farmland of Statewide Importance as some of the most productive soils in the Richmond region.

Floodplains & Flooding Resilience. The conservation easement is protecting natural floodplains along the James River. Such flood plains provide a buffer against fast moving flood water, absorb and store excess runoff, and filter pollutants from our water resources. The property off Osborne Turnpike has been included as an additionally special case because of the Tidal Marsh Model developed by the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences that anticipates marshes to migrate as a response to sea-level rise.

Cultural & Historic Preservation. Another significant conservation value documented on the property is its presence within the core battlefield area of The Battle of Chaffin’s Farm and New Market Heights, fought in Virginia on September 29 – 30, 1864 during the American Civil War. The remarkable and yet often overlooked role of United States Colored Troops and/or other African American Units in this battle is the driving factor for the property’s inclusion in the Cultural and Historic Preservation Category of ConserveVirginia. Fourteen of the fifteen Congressional Medals of Honor awarded to USCT army soldiers throughout the Civil War were awarded to men who fought in the pre-dawn hours of September 29 at New Market Heights.

Scenic Preservation. Finally, the conservation easement protects 862 feet of the James River shoreline with a 100-foot riparian buffer. Being on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and the James River Heritage Trail, the property is highly visible from these important scenic corridors.

“It’s significant to have a landowner voluntarily donate an easement on property that ranks in the top 10% of Virginia’s most important places to protect,” said Parker Agelasto, CRLC Executive Director. “It’s exceptional, however, when they are preserving land that has such a diverse array of conservation values and benefits for the community.”

Landowner and easement donor Randy Welch elated in the opportunity to record his fourth conservation easement in Henrico County, stating “I am fortunate to be able to help protect land along this segment of the James River for future generations.”