NEW KENT – The Virginia Outdoors Foundation recently protected its 700,000th acre of open space thanks to a conservation easement donated on a 116-acre Bicentennial Farm in New Kent County.
It's VOF's second easement in New Kent County. The other easement is on Crawfords State Forest.
Silver Hall Farm has been owned and operated by the Binns family since 1771. It is located along U.S. Route 60 about 20 miles east of Richmond. The farm sits across from Crawfords State Forest, which was acquired by VOF in 1995 before being transferred to the Virginia Department of Forestry.
The Silver Hall Farm easement prohibits subdivision and limits the amount of dwellings and other impervious surfaces that can be built on the farm. These restrictions will ensure that the soils-two-thirds of which are designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as prime farmland-will remain available for farming, forestry, and other rural uses.
The easement also includes a half-mile riparian buffer on Schiminoe Creek, which runs along the farm's eastern edge. The buffer helps to prevent erosion and runoff from impairing the creek, which flows into the Chickahominy River.
"To me, this farm is a legacy from my predecessors," said Edward Binns, who runs all of the farming operations. "It looks like development pressure is going to increase in the future, and I did not want to see it go under houses."
The property is held in a trust managed by Mr. Binns, his sisters Margaret Binns Adamson and Grace Binns Timberlake, and his mother, Lora Mead Binns, who lives on the farm.
The Binns family learned about VOF's program from the Capital Region Land Conservancy, a local nonprofit that promotes conservation easements throughout the Richmond region.
VOF has protected about 45,000 acres in the Richmond region using conservation easements. In the last decade, VOF has protected open space in Virginia at a rate of about five acres every hour. The foundation holds more easements than any land trust in the nation. Its easements help to protect 3,500 miles of streams, 300,000 acres of prime farming soils, and 550,000 acres of open space in the Chesapeake Bay watershed