By Rob Hedelt, retired Free Lance-Star reporter and Northern Neck Land Conservancy board member.
The Power of Place: Celebrating Two Decades of Work to Protect Rural Heritage
The Northern Neck Land Conservancy celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It now protects nearly 7,500 acres in the Northern Neck and Essex County.
The Land Conservancy’s board is focused on the future, and proud to share recent and overall successes. Six new conservation easements were recorded in 2023 totaling 659 acres.
In doing so, it is accomplishing its core goal for the region: to conserve “its lands, waters, economies and culture for future generations.”
And while the Conservancy’s board and backers are proud of their progress including moving to a full-time staffed office in Warsaw — its leaders say their primary focus is how recent progress will lead to increasing land easements.
“Our progress from 2004 to 2024 is wonderful, and I am excited about what can be done in the next 20 years,” said Board President James Russell. “We want everyone to understand that land in the Northern Neck and Essex County is a rare resource. Northern Neck Land Conservancy is the right organization, and this is the right time to help protect our beautiful region for generations to come.”
For those not familiar with Northern Neck Land Conservancy, it is a 501 c 3 nonprofit land trust that assists landowners who volunteer to protect their land by placing a permanent restriction on development using a conservation easement.
The conservation easement, which is a legal document, allows the landowner to decide how he or she wishes the land to be used, now and in the future. Northern Neck Land Conservancy provides interested landowners with information and guidance as they work with various advisors through the easement donation process.
One of the group’s recent conservation easements, historic Lawson Bay Farm in Lancaster County, was permanently protected by Gunn Robison and his father Robby. Robby Robison was a boy in 1947 when his family moved to the pastoral, 75-acre tract on the Rappahannock River between White Stone Beach and Mosquito Point. His son, Gunn, is now responsible for the property.
“I want it to stay like it is,” said Gunn. “And my kids have enough sense of history and their own enjoyment here that they want to be able to come back as well. They are now adults and will start having families. I want them and their children to be able to come back here and have it be exactly as it is now, a very special place.”
Northern Neck Land Conservancy is more than just easements and acreages. it is people and their respect for rural living. The founders of the Land Conservancy envisioned a community that is committed to conservation.
“Our founding board members were Mary Louisa Pollard, George Freeman, Robert Fox, Kathryn Gregory, Page Henley and Jane Towner,” said Russell. “I hope they and their families and other early supporters are proud of the way we are carrying out their vision of shared responsibility for the future of our region.”
One of the goals is to make sure the regional community understands and appreciates the group’s mission to preserve the unique character of the region. Outreach efforts range from the popular annual Boots and Barbecue event to Fourth Friday gatherings at its Bay View property in Northumberland County.
The Conservancy knows that none of this would be possible without the community itself, the donors, the backers, the volunteers and the people who place their land into conservation easement.
For more information and to become a supporting member, visit the Northern Neck Land Conservancy’s website at nnconserve.org or call 804-250-2334.