Protecting the Land and Water of Virginia’s Capital Region Since 2005
Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC) was founded out of great care for the Richmond community and the land you love. Concerned with the growing impacts of development and sprawl on Richmond’s abundant natural and cultural resources, CRLC’s Founder Bill Greenleaf set out to save the land he loved. Bill attended countless community meetings, conservation workshops, interviewed dozens of conservation leaders, and met with landowners. Though conservation had not yet taken off in the Richmond region, a small community of supporters rallied around a shared vision of a land trust focused on natural resource conservation.
CRLC was incorporated in Virginia in March 2005 as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with the sole purpose of holding conservation easements. The newly established Board started by focusing on landowner outreach, mailing postcards about conserving land to thousands of property owners who owned 50 acres or more. During the first 5 years when new land trusts cannot hold conservation easements per federal and state law, CRLC remained busy facilitating easements and working with partners to protect more than 3,300 acres.
In December 2006, CRLC recorded its first conservation easement as a co-hold with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation on 337 acres in Powhatan County. CRLC celebrated another milestone with the recording in June 2009 of a co-held easement with the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation on 280 acres of the James River Park System in Richmond.
In 2010, CRLC was awarded a Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for its work with the City of Richmond to preserve the James River Park System (JRPS). The JRPS easement was the first conservation easement of its kind in the Commonwealth, and perhaps the nation, preserving an urban park owned by the municipality and ensuring public access for future generations.
In 2012, CRLC was also awarded (along with the Chesterfield Parks and Recreation Department) a Governor’s Environmental Excellence Honorable Mention for the protection of over 100 acres in Chesterfield County for use as the future Atkins Acres Community Park.
Growing at Year 10
By its 10th anniversary, CRLC held ten conservation easements on more than 1,300 acres and had facilitated the protection of more than 5,700 acres. Much of this, however, came by way of merger with the Goochland Land Alliance in 2009 and Friends of Chesterfield’s Riverfront in 2014. GLA held three conservation easements on more than 275 acres and had facilitated protection of more than 1,300 acres in Goochland County. FOCR held two conservation easements comprising another 290 acres. CRLC had also established a strategic partnership to co-hold easements with the Henricopolis Soil and Water Conservation District In Henrico County.
Parker C. Agelasto became Executive Director in 2015 and joined CRLC’s Director of Land Conservation, Jane Myers (hired in 2009), as the two part-time staff for CRLC. The pace of conservation picked up notably with CRLC recording two easements in 2016, five easements in 2017, two in 2018, and two in 2019 all total protecting another 1,028 acres. During this time CRLC also shifted to making its first purchase of land and closed on the acquisition of 871-acres for $6.6 million at Malvern Hill Farm in Henrico County.
In 2019, CRLC was again awarded a Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for acquiring and preserving Malvern Hill Farm. The property had gone on the market and CRLC assembled a complex funding matrix to purchase the property. CRLC has since transferred portions of Malvern Hill Farm to the National Park Service to be included in the Richmond National Battlefield Park and to Henrico County for a future public park under a conservation easement held by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission bestowed the highest honor to CRLC when it became nationally accredited in 2019. CRLC joined ten other land trusts in Virginia to have reached this level of distinction. CRLC also maintains accreditation with the Better Business Bureau and has the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid (formerly GuideStar).
Conservation Impact Today
Since 2020, CRLC has recorded another twelve conservation easements on more than 300 acres, acquired ownership of 575 acres and facilitated the protection of another 600 acres. Of the land that CRLC has acquired, much of this is for future parks and public access. This includes 13 acres on Warwick Road in South Richmond, 42+ acres along the Appomattox River in Chesterfield County to extend the Appomattox River Trail, another 3.5 acres to expand the James River Park System, and 28 acres to be added to the Richmond National Battlefield Park. It also facilitated the $5.1 million purchase and protection of 5.2 acres along Dock Street to preserve the “View that Named Richmond” and relocate the Virginia Capital Trail, plus bring to fruition the James River Association’s James Buzzard Environmental Center along the James River. In 2021, CRLC also took ownership of 353 acres in Eastern Henrico County, which officially opened the “Varina LandLab” in 2023 to public access including four miles of hiking trails.
As the only non-profit organization devoted specifically to the conservation of land within the capital region and serving its localities, CRLC has become a recognized leader in land conservation in Virginia among government agencies, local, state, and national nonprofits, and the public as it continues to fulfill its mission “to conserve and protect the natural and historic land and water resources of Virginia’s Capital Region for the benefit of current and future generations.”
Starting as a volunteer-run organization, CRLC owes much of its early success to the leadership and efforts of its board members. Today, CRLC employs five talented staff members and is governed by a dedicated Board of Directors and Advisory Board. Several of CRLC’s founders remain active in Board Emeritus positions after over fifteen years of service to CRLC.
CRLC has protected over 13,000 acres of land, including over 52 miles of stream and river frontage since 2005. Of that, CRLC holds or co-holds conservation easements on more than 2,800 acres and, as of June 2023, has fee simple ownership of over 575 acres. In total, CRLC can claim to have facilitated the protection of 20% of the conserved acreage within the Richmond region – including private, local, state and federal lands. However, in a region comprised of 1.4 million acres, this covers only 5.4% of the land. CRLC seeks to expand ongoing efforts to protect a minimum of 10% of the region’s acreage and 100 miles of riverfront.
CRLC 10 Year Timeline
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