Laurie Schlemm is presented Conservation Champion Award

From the Rappahannock Record
October 29, 2023

LOTTSBURG—Northern Neck Land Conservancy’s annual Boots and Barbecue event recently was held at Mount Zion Farm in Lottsburg.

One of several highlights was the announcement of the organization’s 2023 Conservation Champion award, reported executive director Lisa Biever. The Land Conservancy is committed to preserving working farms, forests, historical sites, scenic views, and healthy watersheds. The Conservancy supports landowners and is steward to conservation easements in six counties from Lancaster up to King George, as well as Essex County on the Middle Peninsula.

The Land Conservancy established its Conservation Champion Award in 2015 to recognize those who support the protection of the rural character of the Northern Neck in a significant way. A Conservation Champion must have significantly contributed to the protection of natural resources in the Northern Neck; or have contributed to preserving the rural heritage of the Northern Neck; or have educated the public about the benefits of conservation.

2023 Conservation Champion Laurie Schlemm serves on the Northern Neck Land Conservancy board and leads the Fund Development Committee. Her contributions to Northern Neck conservation are many, but one stands out, said Biever.

For the last five years and more, Schlemm has led a campaign to protect significant open space land for the people of King George County, the Northern Neck and the Commonwealth. Lake Caledon is a 455-acre parcel near Caledon State Park that was once owned by her in-laws. Peppermill Creek runs through almost a mile of the property into a 47-acre lake. In the words of Clyde Cristman when he was director of Virginia Conservation and Recreation, “Lake Caledon would be an incredible addition to Caledon State Park. This land has access to The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, which is a non-motorized multi-use trail going from Pittsburg to the Chesapeake. A segment

of this trail is called the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail, which travels through the marshes for almost a mile to Lake Caledon.”

Lake Caledon is home to bald eagles, otters, and blue and green herons, but a developer purchased the property planning to build 97 single-family homes. With the developer’s cooperation, and thanks to Schlemm, this is now very unlikely to happen.

While the effort to “Save Lake Caledon” is ongoing, it is not too soon for the tireless friend-raising and tenacious communication campaign she has undertaken, said Biever. Through her efforts federal, state, and local funders are now collaborating to make this wonderful new outdoor public resource a reality in the year ahead.

“We will succeed in protecting the natural and cultural resources of the Northern Neck when local citizens work together and take action,” said President James Russell. “I applaud Laurie’s leadership as a champion of conservation in the Northern Neck.”

Boots and Barbecue was a sell-out. It featured a barbecue buffet, music and exhibitors and demonstrations that reflect the character of the Northern Neck like Friends of the Rappahannock, Northumberland Association for Progressive Stewardship, Northern Neck Beekeepers, Northern Neck Hidden History Trail, the Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia and the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge.