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Comments from Conservation Landowners
 
In 1974 we bought farm land in Greene County, Virginia largely as an investment. However, we soon began camping on the land with our kids and it didnít take long before the beauty and quietness of the place became an essential element in our way of life. We learned much about its special places and the wildlife who shared their home with us. Often we would spend hours there not talking. Words seemed so out of place when you could absorb through visual and auditory means what was smothered in the city. It was this co-existence with the city, and its increasingly oppressive expansion, that gave us a deep appreciation for having farms and natural places where life was in a far better balance.

Having moved to the farm after retiring from the city, we were suddenly faced with a major part of our view shed being put up for sale. There was no way to be sure the fields would not be bought by developers and turned into a chess board of oversized homes, as has become an all too common example of poorly planned excess. We used retirement funds and found a couple who would not only buy half the property, but were willing to join us in placing conservation easements on our respective parcels. This would ensure mutual protection of the land and each otherís view. 

It didnít stop there. A neighbor with adjacent property also joined in placing a conservation easement on their farm giving us over 150 acres of mostly open land, all committed to remaining that way forever. Now that we have this core of protected land in our valley, other landowners are considering doing the same thing. It is the best of community spirit and offers real potential to preserve an entire farming community, and field after open field and forest. 

This model can be followed elsewhere in our region and it could become a significant component in helping maintain the rural character so cherished by those who grew up here and by those who have come to call it home. We are reserving for all who follow us a place that can sooth the senses, preserve farming and forests, and give respite to wild things that our normal ways snuff out. Rather than choosing to let others ďimprove our landĒ, we here together, with common voice, choose not to destroy what nature and our forebears have given us.

                                                    Carl and Priscilla Schmitt
 


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