Historic ‘treasures’ protected

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently announced the commonwealth has reached its goal of protecting 1,000 “Virginia Treasures” for the enjoyment of generations of Virginians and visitors to come. The treasures include five in Lunenburg County, made up of two conservation easements and nine Virginia Outdoors Foundation easements.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, the milestone comes fewer than 18 months after the initiative launched to highlight important ecological, historic, scenic and recreational lands across the state. McAuliffe made the announcement at a celebratory reception with the Secretariat of Natural Resources and associated agencies at the Executive Mansion in Richmond.

“In May 2015, we set out to identify and protect 1,000 Virginia Treasures before the end of my administration as a way of focusing our land conservation efforts on sites that offer the most value to the Virginia public. Today, we have accomplished that goal more than a year ahead of schedule,” Gov. McAuliffe said. “Thank you to the countless conservationists who work every day to protect our shared spaces and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish in the next year and beyond. From our Eastern Shore to the Appalachian Mountains and everywhere in between, Virginia is worth treasuring.”

Virginia Treasures come in many forms. They can be ecologically significant lands protected with conservation or open-space easements, historic properties designated by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources or new projects that enhanced access to the Great Outdoors. Examples include the newly opened Natural Bridge State Park, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ new Ware Creek Wildlife Management Area, as well as countless other natural areas, parks, and boat launches across the Commonwealth. To qualify, Virginia Treasures must have been protected, preserved, or opened to the public since January 2014.

“The Virginia Treasures Program offers a unique opportunity to celebrate the places that make our Commonwealth special,” Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward said. “We have received submissions from all sorts of groups, including land trusts, private landowners, nonprofit organizations, local governments, and state and federal agencies. It is incredibly inspiring to see the outpouring of support for this important initiative.”

Staff at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation vet applications to ensure they meet established criteria. Submissions will continue to be accepted online at www.dcr.virginia.gov/virginia-treasures-application. Approved applicants receive a formal thank-you note from the Governor and have the opportunity to purchase a sign for their property.

Currently, Virginia Treasures include 455 through land conservation, 391 historic treasures and 154 recreation treasures.