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Great Earth Day News - 500 Acres Conserved!

Living River Trust preserves 500 acres of pristine land

Big “win” in honor of Earth Day 50th anniversary

On April 10, 2020, the first and only local conservation organization in Hampton Roads, The Living River Trust, set aside for permanent protection nearly 500 acres of forestland at the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in Chesapeake, Virginia. See today's media coverage from WAVY TV 10's Hampton Roads Show and an interview with the Living River Trust's John Harbin here.

For the benefit, pleasure, enrichment, recreation and health of Hampton Roads’ residents, the Living River Trust seeks to permanently protect special habitats, unique parcels, bird-bee-and other wildlife habitat, recreational areas, sensitive riverside lands, lands which give us beauty, lands which inspire and invigorate us, lands which give us wildlife, lands which protect our water quality.

The 500 acres preserved for perpetuity by LRT are a key component of the valuable Dismal Swamp system, a local and national treasure. The land is on the northern edge of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and will be incorporated into the Refuge. Most of the northern end of the Great Dismal Swamp has been drained and developed; in fact, the

500-acre parcel was once planned for a massive industrial park. This parcel is in unspoiled condition and is now preserved forever.

Ironically, this remarkable conservation project occurred because of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The pipeline owners took a right-of-way easement over 12 acres of property the Trust protects through a conservation easement. While the pipeline owners had the ability to condemn LRT’s land, the law imposed a duty to mitigate their impact to LRT’s property. LRT was able to negotiate a deal that allowed it to preserve almost 500 acres as compensation for the 12-acre easement. Since the newly protected 500 acres is now a permanent part of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, it is available to Hampton Roads residents for hiking, birding, hunting, and other public uses.

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The Living River Trust is a not-for-profit land trust working across Hampton Roads to conserve open space that expands access for recreation, provides habitat for wildlife, and improves environmental well-being. It is the only land conservation group in this urban area where open space is increasingly scarce.

The Trust can help landowners protect their land while retaining ownership and gaining tax benefits by placing a conservation easement over the land. The Trust also works with landowners to accept donated lands and those looking to sell high-value open space. Interested landowners can contact John Harbin, jharbin@elizabethriver.org.