South Fork Rivanna Reservoir F2F Program: Forest Conservation Element
Studies have repeatedly shown that forests are the best land cover in terms of water quality benefits. Land conservation protects water quality by preventing the conversion of forest cover to other land uses. Conservation easements can be enhanced to further protect water quality by allowing fewer divisions, requiring more forest retention and enhancing riparian buffer protection.
To provide a financial reward to landowners who donate a conservation easement that provides direct protection of water quality and/or quantity by permanently retaining forest cover and who voluntarily choose to enhance the water quality protections offered by typical easement terms. Graduated scales of payments, based upon select easement “enhancements” chosen by landowners, are available to landowners who donate either Whole Property Easements or Riparian Buffer Easements.
Whole Property Easement Payments
Are available to landowners who donate a conservation easement to a qualified easement holder approved by the VDOF on properties that meet the following standards:
- At least seventy-five percent forested.
- Borders or includes a perennial or intermittent stream as identified on the USGS topo maps.
- Easement terms must include at least a 50’ no-cow-no-plow buffer on all perennial and intermittent streams.
- Permanent retention of at least 50% of existing forest cover on the property.
- Follows VDOF criteria for permitted divisions, dwellings, and structures.
Landowners would receive a base payment on the following sliding scale according to property size:
< 40 acres $3,500
40-99 acres $7,500
300 + $10,000
In addition to the base payment, landowners would also be eligible for the following funding based upon the following voluntary enhancements that increase the water quality protection afforded by the easement.
$500 – Per 1,000 feet of perennial stream buffered.
$500 – Per additional 50’ of buffer width up to a maximum of 100’ in forested areas and 300’ for open land. Buffers would have to be at least 250’ feet long and be no-cow-no-plow.
$1000 – If all riparian buffers (minimum width of fifty feet and length of 250’) are forested or are converted to forest cover (planting or natural regeneration).
$1000 – To increase the requirements of forest cover retention from 50% of the existing forest on the property up to 80%.
$1000 – For each forfeited division right that would be permitted under the terms of a typical easement.
Minimum payment for a whole property easement will be $3500; the maximum payment will be $15,000.
Riparian Buffer Easements
Are available to landowners who place a conservation easement on riparian buffers on all intermittent and perennial streams on their property. Buffers must be at least 50’ in width, and have to protect at least 250’ feet of stream length.
Landowner’s would receive a base payment of $2.50 per linear foot of stream protected and would be eligible for the bonus payments as described above. The maximum payment for a riparian buffer easement is $15,000; there is no minimum payment.
Landowners with qualified and approved conservation easements will be approved for incentive payments on a first-com-first-served basis.
For additional information, visit the F2F Contracts Section of this Website or contact Mike Santucci, Virginia Department of Forestry Forest Conservation Specialist for the Charlottesville Region by phone at (434) 220-9182 or by Email at Mike.Santucci@dof.virginia.gov.