Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. Announces 1 Million Acres Conserved Since 2000

One million acres have been conserved since Virginia’s Land Preservation Tax Credit went into effect, highlighting the importance of land conservation moving forward.

HARRISONBURG, VA – Virginia’s Land Preservation Tax Credit has led to the permanent protection of over 1 million acres of land in Virginia, Senator Emmett W. Hanger Jr. announced on April 26 in Harrisonburg at the Virginia Land and Greenways Conference sponsored by Virginia’s United Land Trusts. More than five times larger than the Shenandoah National Park, the land protected through this nationally acclaimed program benefits all Virginians by providing clean air and safe drinking water, increasing access to nature, and supporting job-creating industries such as agriculture and forestry. In addition, the resulting land protection is critical to meeting an array of public policy objectives ranging from farmland protection and climate resilience to meeting the goals of the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort.

“The Land Preservation Tax Credit was a joint effort coming out of the Commission on the Future of Virginia’s Environment,” Hanger said when announcing the milestone on Wednesday. “None of us imagined that it would be as big as it would be.” 

“The permanent protection of over 1 million acres of land in Virginia is an exciting milestone,” said U.S. Senator Tim Kaine. “I’m proud that we succeeded in protecting 424,000 acres of land in Virginia when I was governor, and this bipartisan program helped make that possible. Virginia’s natural treasures are crucial to the way of life and local economies in communities throughout the commonwealth, and I look forward to continuing to do all that I can on the federal level to help protect them.” 

Established in January 2000 with the unanimous and bipartisan passage of the Virginia Land Conservation Incentives Act of 1999, the LPTC is the single largest factor in Virginia’s land conservation success, dramatically increasing the pace and scale of conservation in the commonwealth. In the 35 years prior to the passage of the LPTC, according to Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation data, roughly 175,000 acres had been permanently protected by conservation easements in Virginia. In the 22 years since, more than seven times that amount, totaling more than 1,275,000 acres, have been conserved statewide, making Virginia a national leader in private land conservation. 

“The Land Preservation Tax Credit has been used to protect important lands in more than 100 localities across every region of Virginia,” said Ellen Shepard, executive director of Virginia’s United Land Trusts. “By allowing landowners with a wide range of economic circumstances to benefit from these tax incentives, the Land Preservation Tax Credit has vastly expanded the map of conserved land across the commonwealth.” 

The LPTC provides landowners with tax credits in exchange for voluntarily limiting future development on their land and conserving important natural, cultural, scenic, and historic resources. Over the past 20 years, families across Virginia have worked with public agencies and nonprofit land trusts to voluntarily protect their property from future development and ensure stewardship of important conservation values for future generations. 

“We wanted to do something with our resources beyond our needs,” said Lynn Cameron, a Virginia landowner who has permanently protected 168 acres adjacent to Shenandoah National Park through the LPTC. “We wanted to do something for the greater good and it’s always been important to us to protect nature. The tax credits helped us pay for the land and it was the best investment we could have ever made.” 

Virginia is one of only five states that makes its land preservation tax credits transferable. By allowing easement donors to sell tax credits they’re unable to use, the program reaches across the economic spectrum and plays a significant role in many landowners’ decisions to donate an easement. And ultimately, tens of thousands of acres are permanently protected in Virginia each year at a fraction of the cost it would take for the commonwealth to acquire the land needed to meet its conservation and water quality goals. 

“I count myself fortunate for the opportunities I have had over the years to be involved in numerous areas that have contributed positively to the quality of life we enjoy in the commonwealth,” said Hanger. “The work we did over 20 years ago in the Commission on the Future of Virginia’s Environment is an excellent example of bipartisan efforts that will continue to pay off great dividends to future generations of Virginians in both tax incentives and land preservation.”

Comments From Around the Commonwealth

“Back in 1998, when the tax credit was formulated, our goal was simple: to preserve and protect Virginia’s natural resources. When the bill was introduced in 1999, we had no idea that we could in such a short time, within our lifetimes, preserve 1 million acres. The impact of the Land Preservation Tax Credit on our environment is immeasurable, and I am humbled to have played a role in reaching this remarkable achievement.” —Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), co-patron of the 1999 LPTC legislation. 

“Twenty years ago, I thought that making the Land Preservation Tax Credit transferable would bring the free market to the commonwealth’s land conservation efforts. Little did we know that it would help us conserve 1 million acres. I extend my congratulations to the land conservation community and the public servants who made this milestone possible.” —William J. Howell (R-Stafford), former speaker of the House of Delegates and patron of HB 1322 (2002), which made the Land Preservation Tax Credit transferable.

“As Chair of the Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee, I know the importance of the tax credit program and how it helps so many in our commonwealth. I have always been a steward of Virginia’s natural resources and open space and am delighted to hear that the Virginia Land Preservation Tax Credit program has protected 1 million acres from sprawl since it began in 2000.” —Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax), chair of the Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee.

“To succeed Mr. Speaker Bill Howell as a custodian of the commonwealth’s Land Preservation Tax Credit has been a distinct privilege of my service in the House of Delegates. Think of it: We have secured 1 million acres of land in Virginia from sprawl, and we have saved it for agriculture, wildlife habitat, pollution control, and historic preservation. The milestone gives all of us one more reason to celebrate the vision and accomplishments of all of the public servants and advocates who made this accomplishment possible.” —Delegate R. Lee Ware (R-Powhatan), chair of the House Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee and patron of five different bills that expanded and improved the Land Preservation Tax Credit.

“The Land Preservation Tax Credit program continues to help preserve the scenic open spaces that make the commonwealth special and is an important tool in our efforts to restore water quality and clean up Chesapeake Bay. We encourage more landowners to contribute to the protection of Virginia’s natural resources by participating in the program.” —Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Travis Voyles. 

“Throughout Virginia’s history, agriculture and forestry have been central to the culture and livelihood of the commonwealth’s residents. As times have changed, the total amount of forest and farmland has greatly diminished. Support for these industries and businesses is vital. The Land Preservation Tax Credit program has greatly increased the ability for voluntary land conservation among Virginia’s private forest and agricultural landowners.” —Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr.

“Every acre a landowner helps to preserve through this popular program is another acre toward a more sustainable commonwealth for all of us. The Land Preservation Tax Credit program also helps us work toward goals of increasing public access to open space, including historic battlefields and other properties. We are honored to be able to help so many Virginians create a permanent, living legacy.” —Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Matthew Wells.

“Since 2000, the Land Preservation Tax Credit has fueled private land conservation at an incredible pace — nearly five acres every hour. Our foundation has worked with thousands of landowners who’ve utilized this program, and most of them have reinvested the tax credits back into the land by expanding their farming and forestry operations and enhancing wildlife habitat. These lands will benefit Virginians for generations to come.” —Brett Glymph, executive director of Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

“Virginia Department of Forestry recently celebrated our 205th conservation easement, and the tremendous success of the VDOF forestland conservation program would not have been possible without the LPTC.” —State Forester Rob Farrell.

Photos by Hugh Kenny.

Posted on: May 3, 2023

Piedmont Fox Hounds Conservation Fund: Hunt Country’s Newest Nonprofit

Written by Bill Kent | Photos by Dillon Keen Photography 

For landowners and conservation enthusiasts alike, meet Hunt Country’s newest nonprofit: the Piedmont Fox Hounds Conservation Fund. 

“We want to hear from every property owner, be it one acre or a hundred,” says Dulany Morison, direct descendant of the founder of America’s oldest hunt and board chair of the namesake PFH Conservation Fund. “This incredible, beautiful place we live in did not happen by accident. We want to be the go-to resource for preservation and conservation and anyone who is interested in our equestrian traditions.”

Conceived in 2021, founded in 2022, and active as of this year, PFHCF aims to fill a gap among other regional nonprofits engaged in protecting Hunt Country from overdevelopment and environmentally caustic land use, in that it seeks to inspire through direct experience of Hunt Country’s equestrian lifestyle. Morison, who sits on the boards of a half-dozen other local nonprofits, says the new PFH Conservation Fund “seeks to engage the wider Piedmont community with the protected landscapes, teach stewardship of the land, and educate how conservation practices not only preserve our equestrian heritage, but they benefit everyone.”

Katy Carter, PFHCF’s program director, says, “It can be as simple as not cutting down an old tree that is a vital part of the ecosystem, or not raking up your leaves. These can be important microhabitats beneficial for wildlife whose presence contributes intricately to the landscape we hunt on.”

In order to demonstrate that, PFHCF recently took 50 people on a half-day trail ride across protected farms off Rokeby Road. In addition to experiencing one of Hunt Country’s most scenic vistas from a saddle, participants also received a gentle lesson in land management, conservation easements, and the kinds of subtle environmental features (fences that horses can jump, for example, compared to those they can’t) that can make a major difference.

“The intention is to provide a textured, layered experience that speaks for itself,” says PFHCF Secretary Laurie Ambrose.

PFHCF then pairs landowners who may have specific questions with legal, environmental, agricultural, and equestrian experts who can answer them. Among those are Ashton Cole, executive director of the Land Trust of Virginia; Mike Kane, director of conservation of the Piedmont Environmental Council; Travis Shaw, director of education of the Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area; and Leah Chaldres, program and communication coordinator of the Goose Creek Association.

Beyond providing the community with educational resources, PFHCF also offers financial support. Earlier this year, when a Hunt Country landowner was inspired to apply for a conservation easement but could not afford the expense, PFHCF agreed to cover a portion of the cost.

The fund also sponsors the Andrew Donovan Looney “Passion and Dreams” Scholarship, which provides summer internship opportunities for high school students who want to get a hands-on appreciation of the work that keeps Hunt Country’s hunts alive.

Those interested in getting involved or touring the local landscape can email [email protected], and for more information on internships and scholarships, visit ML

Posted on: April 21, 2023

Dr. Betsee Parker: Land Trust of Virginia’s Conservationist of the Year

Written by Lia Hobel

The Land Trust of Virginia’s “Conservationist of the Year” award is presented to an individual who has strong commitment to land conservation and has made extraordinary contributions to the organization’s mission. This year’s recipient is Dr. Betsee Parker, a leader for local preservation projects with an impressive track record in the field. She’ll be recognized officially during an award ceremony on May 7. “I’m very honored and I feel very privileged to receive this award,” shares Dr. Parker.

According to the executive director of LTV, Ashton Cole, individuals are identified in the selection process who’ve made “significant impact in conservation and preservation of properties with particular historic, scenic, agricultural, or ecological significance to the commonwealth.” The nonprofit recognizes Dr. Parker for her efforts to protect and steward various properties in the northern Piedmont. 

Dr. Parker’s efforts include the restoration of the historic Huntland Estate, on Pot House Road, which encompasses the main house, gardens, stables, kennels, and original quarters of enslaved people. “When I found out about Huntland being up for sale, it was in very derelict condition and was not livable,” Dr. Parker recalls. “It took a few years before I could move in — in fact three and a half, because it was so derelict that there was a lot of foundational work which needed to be done. It wasn’t just a matter of cosmetic work.” 

The estate includes 150 acres. When land surrounding the Huntland Estate came on the market, Dr. Parker acted swiftly to purchase the acreage to block the possibility of any housing development plans. She also made the conservation purchase of the nearby Farmer’s Delight Estate. She said she feels honored to preserve as much open space as possible in the community and feels a civic responsibility to do so to protect species of animals who inhabit the area. 

Farmer’s Delight, located on Mountville Road, is the older of the two houses, dating back to pre-Revolutionary America. The house itself was built in the 1790s by Colonel Joseph Flavius Lane. Dr. Parker says her timing was right when the property went up for sale. She wanted to keep the home’s historical nature intact and “keep the properties in a state where they are very attractive to all the species of animals that need to take refuge on our lands.” She says, “It’s been a very expensive endeavor to do that, but I’ve been happy to hold the land for that reason.”

Dr. Parker was also largely instrumental in developing and funding the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Upperville Colt & Horse Show Grounds, the donation of the old General Store to the Unison Preservation Society, as well as the historic Allen House in Middleburg to the Middleburg Museum Foundation. 

In part, her work is inspired by the United Nations and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. She feels privileged to have worked with senior advisors and activists for the last 20 years in sustainable development and climate change and said she’s learned much about the international, national, state, and local issues and always at the forefront is conservation of land. 

Dr. Parker says her appreciation for conservancy started at an early age. “I was around horses and ponies as a little girl, and we would ride out into these big, beautiful green spaces,” she remembers. “I’ve always loved the wide-open spaces and particularly those in Virginia with the rolling vistas down to the Blue Ridge Mountains. I always found it very romantic and nostalgic and full of the experience that I wanted to have in life of a very peaceful and meditative scene.” 

The 2023 Annual Conservation Awards will also include “Land Owner of the Year” and “Steward of the Year.” All award recipients will be honored at the Garden Party on May 7 at the historic Kinross Farm, owned by Zohar and Lisa Ben-Dov. ML

More information regarding the Land Trust of Virginia (LTV)

Founded over a quarter century ago, the Land Trust of Virginia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that relies upon the generous support of the community and landowners to fulfill its mission. The LTV is a trusted conservation partner, recognized and accredited by the Land Trust Alliance as a land trust that meets “national standards for protecting natural places and working lands forever.”

Published in the April 2023 issue of Middleburg Life.

Land Trust of Virginia Receives Capacity Grant from Virginia Outdoors Foundation and Virginia’s United Land Trusts

“Implementation of Remote Monitoring Software: Lens” granted $12,000

MIDDLEBURG, VA  – The Land Trust of Virginia (LTV) is pleased to announce they have been awarded a one-year grant by Virginia’s United Land Trusts (VaULT) that is generously funded by Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF). LTV will receive $12,000 for their project titled “Implementation of Remote Monitoring Software: Lens.

This grant program, now in its second year, was created in recognition of the critical importance of accelerating land conservation throughout the commonwealth and to highlight the power of partnership between state agencies and nonprofit land trusts. Historically state agencies have taken the majority of conservation easements, but over the last decade, Virginia’s nonprofit land trust community and specifically VaULT members have significantly increased the number of properties they are conserving each year. The percentage of the total number of easements completed by nonprofit land trusts has increased from 17% in 2015 to 49% in 2020. Of that 49%, 47% was completed by VaULT members. LTV, an accredited land trust and VaULT member, currently holds more easements than any other nonprofit land trust in Virginia.

“Remote monitoring has become an important tool for land trusts to effectively steward easement properties across our expansive commonwealth,” said LTV Executive Director Ashton Cole. “We have identified a subset of our easements that are eligible for remote monitoring based on several factors, including distance from our headquarters, property size, and nature of uses. This will allow us to not only save valuable travel time, but also lessen our organization’s carbon footprint. We anticipate yet again increasing our easement intake ability in 2023 due to implementing this software. We really appreciate having received this grant and we’re grateful for the many ways VOF and VaULT support conservation in Virginia.”

Last year, LTV completed 21 easements for a total of 4,642 acres protected, compared to 3,041 acres in 2022. These new easements expanded our footprint into seven new localities, resulting in LTV now holding easements in 31 counties across Virginia. As Cole further noted, “The interest from the public in the work we do is growing every year. We feel we’re in a position to respond to the increased demand for land conservation, but it wouldn’t be possible without our wonderful partners across the state, and our wonderful supporters and donors who enable us to sustain these efforts on a daily basis.” For more information about LTV’s work, please visit

Posted on: April 4, 2023

Land Trust of Virginia Has Record Year Conserving Over 4,000 Acres

Over the past three years, LTV has more than doubled their easement intake capacity.

MIDDLEBURG, VA – Land Trust of Virginia is pleased to announce a record year of conservation easements. In 2022, LTV staff completed 21 easements for a total of 4,642 acres protected, compared to a total of 3,041 acres in 2021, and 1,765 acres conserved in 2020. These easements expanded LTV into seven new Virginia localities, including Caroline, Gloucester, Highland, Powhatan, Rockingham, and Warren Counties, and the City of Winchester, for a total of 31 localities across Virginia.

“We now hold 30,721 acres in conservation easement across an incredibly diverse Commonwealth,” said LTV Chair of the Board Childs Burden. “Included in those easements are the permanent protection of forests, water corridors, farms, and important historic landmarks that suburban sprawl would otherwise permanently destroy. That is an amazing accomplishment for the future of our landscape.”

Some of LTV’s 2022 easement highlights include:

  • LTV Easement #225, Robert Taylor’s easement, is a 290-acre property located in Spotsylvania County. Most notably, the property features a historic dwelling known as “Andrew’s Tavern,” individually listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and Natural Register of Historic Places. It has served at various times as an ordinary, a school, a polling place, and a residence. Additional natural resources protected include scenic open space with 0.7 miles of frontage on Lawyers Road, 223.8 acres of “Prime Farmland Soils” or “Farmland Soils of Statewide Importance,” 141 acres of forest, and 9.5 acres of wetlands. With this easement, 12 divisions have been extinguished.
  • LTV Easement #227, Hidden River Farm’s easement, is an 86-acre property located in Powhatan County and is highly visible with 3,260 feet of frontage along the Appomattox River and about a 2,000-foot-long stretch of railroad tracks. The property and the railroad bridge at the southwest corner was the site where some of Robert E. Lee’s forces escaped west from Richmond and Petersburg five days before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. Additional natural resources now protected include 69 acres of “Prime Farmland Soils” or “Farmland Soils of Statewide Importance,” 15.26 acres of wetlands, and frontage along an intermittent stream and a pond. With this easement, nine divisions have been extinguished.
  • LTV Easement #231, the Selma House easement, is a 4.9-acre property located in the historic City of Winchester. Union troops destroyed the original house named Selma which stood at the same site and used its stones to construct Fort Milroy during the Civil War. After the war, a new Selma was built in grand style by Judge Edmond Pendleton in 1872. Selma House is along the Green Circle Trail, a guided walking trail that emphasizes the restoration, protection, and interpretation of natural resources and urban green spaces, and the property provides valuable scenic open space and old growth tree canopy. With this easement, 18 divisions have been extinguished.
  • LTV Easement #237, the Bowman Orchards property, 342.91 acres in Rockingham County, and LTV Easement #238, the Bowman-Hearty property, 165 acres in Shenandoah County, are both owned by the Bowman Family, one of the largest apple producers in Virginia. Both properties are nearby to several other protected lands including three other conservation easements and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. Combined, these properties contain 395 acres of “Prime Farmland Soils” or “Farmland Soils of Statewide Importance,” 51 acres of forest, 1,956 feet of Fort Run streambed, and 2,435 feet of Holmans Creek. 

“This was an amazing accomplishment from our staff who worked until the final hours of the year to surpass our goal of 30,000 acres across 30 counties in honor of our 30th year in service in 2022,” said LTV Executive Director Ashton Cole. “We have expanded our capacity to meet the ever-increasing demand from landowners to ensure we continue to provide the highest quality conservation work. We are more motivated than ever to maintain this pace and protect our landscape for all Virginians.”

The Land Trust of Virginia leads the Commonwealth, holding more conservation easements than any other private land trust. For more information about their work, please visit

Photo courtesy of Sophie Langenberg.

Posted on: March 14, 2023

Land Trust of Virginia Announces New Easement

12 Building Lots erased, Scenic Rural Viewshed Preserved

Contact:  Sally Price, Executive Director
[email protected]

MIDDLEBURG, Va., Oct. 10, 2022 – The Land Trust of Virginia (LTV) is pleased to announce a conservation easement on Brian and Kalie Lasley’s property in Rectortown, Fauquier County. This 37.5-acre property ensures the scenic viewshed along Crenshaw Road will remain for future generations.

“I grew up in L.A. so I know what urban sprawl looks like when there is no type of plan in place,” said Kalie. “We’ve watched the development creep out to this area and know that will continue to happen unless something is done. That is part of the reason why we moved to this area, to be a part of a community that is and will remain, rural and so now we have played a part by ensuring that this land will not become a housing development.”

The Lasley’s property includes nearly 1,000 feet of frontage on Crenshaw Road and is located within the Cromwell’s Run Rural Historic District. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Virginia Landmarks Register in 2008, this district comprises of over 14,000 acres of rolling farmland centered along Atoka Road. During the Civil War it saw significant activity due to its close association with Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby and his infamous Rangers. Though beef and dairy cattle are still raised there, horses have become an important basis of the economy, and the predominance of foxhunting within the district since the early 20th century has earned the area its sobriquet as Virginia’s “Hunt Country.”

Courtesy of Land Trust of Virginia.

Additional natural resources now protected include about 27 acres of “Prime Farmland Soils” or “Farmland Soils of Statewide Importance” and nine acres of forest. 

“The Lasley’s have been wonderful supporters of LTV for many years and their property is a beautiful piece of rural Fauquier County,” said LTV Executive Director, Sally Price. “We are excited to record an easement with this family that truly understands our work and wants to ensure the future of our open space.”

The Lasley’s easement is the 220th easement completed by the Land Trust of Virginia. For more information about their work, please visit


About the Land Trust of Virginia

The Land Trust of Virginia is a nonprofit organization that partners with private landowners who voluntarily protect and preserve properties with significant historic, scenic, or ecological value. LTV has worked with 220 families, conserving a total of 26,145 acres in 24 counties in Virginia. While LTV charges landowners for their services, the fees charged only cover about 28% of LTV’s actual costs so fundraising is essential to our mission.

Remembering Marty Martin: Local Legend & Global Expert on Timber Rattlesnakes

“The plan is Catoctins tomorrow. I do not have high hopes even though a colleague saw 25 at my focal den in [redacted] on Wednesday when I was at a South Mtn, Pennsylvania site and got skunked…Forecast is for upper 30s tonight and I think it may push those Catoctin snakes under. However, if I don’t get out there it is just idle speculation. Having seen over 20,000 rattlesnakes plus about 1000 litters, figuring out exactly what is going on is more important to me than seeing a pile of rattlesnakes.”— An excerpt from Marty Martin’s email to me and other field-ready friends on October 8, 2020

William Henry “Marty” Martin III was known as the world’s authority on Timber Rattlesnakes—a species of pit viper native to mountainous areas throughout the east coast and as far west as Texas. He unexpectedly passed away on August 3, surrounded by his wife and daughters, after receiving a bite from one of his captive rattlesnakes.

Born in Leesburg, VA on December 24, 1941, Martin discovered den sites, studied behavior, and monitored the populations of these often-vilified creatures with dogged consistency for decades. At 80 years old, he was still pursuing his research with an eye to the species’ future, documenting the impacts of habitat loss, climate change, and other human pressures on his study populations while trying to instill a love for venomous snakes in the next generation.

“Marty was a guest educator for our Herpetology camps for the past 23 years and inspired countless budding herpetologists,” says Michael Kieffer, the longtime Executive Director of the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy. “While his research firmly establishes his legacy as a conservationist for Timber Rattlesnakes in the Eastern U.S., his work with kids will have lasting benefits, inspiring conservationists of the future. He was a dear friend.”

Martin shows a Timber Rattlesnake to young naturalists at the Bull Run Mountains
Conservancy Herpetology Camp this June. Photo by Michael Kieffer.

Martin’s own journey as a naturalist began as a young boy; by the age of 13, he had already made his first mark on the scientific community, proving the existence of a Timber Rattlesnake population in the Bull Run Mountains. At 17, he was a founding member of the Virginia Herpetological Society. He put his scientific career on hold to join the military, fighting for his country in the Vietnam War as a paratrooper for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division and for his armed service division as a bantamweight boxer.But when this chapter in his life ended, Martin returned to study snakes—and he never stopped.

He received his biology degree from the University of South Florida before traveling the world to conduct independent research on venomous snakes in Africa and South America. His travels would become fodder for conversation later in life, and those who spent time in the field with Martin were treated to storybook-style tales—escaping a Colombian prison by traveling on foot through the rainforest to Ecuador, escaping the epicenter of the first Ebola outbreak in the dead of night, witnessing the start of a civil war in Somalia, narrowly avoiding a deadly plane crash, bringing Australian TV host Steve Irwin to one of his Shenandoah den sites for an episode of “The Crocodile Hunter,” receiving his first and second rattlesnake bites—the list goes on.

While the spirit of adventure and his passion for all venomous snakes took Martin around the world, it was his hometown habitat that comprised the bulk of his life’s work and made him known throughout the herpetological community as a leading expert on Timber Rattlesnakes. “A human of mythic proportions,” writes Joe Villari, Preserve Manager at VOF’s Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve, in his touching personal tribute to Martin. “His love for snakes connected him with humanity, and he connected so many of us to the beauty and joy of rattle snakes.”

Martin continued to work independently, preferring his own strictly field-based research methods to a life in academia, and spent more than four decades visiting the same den sites over, and over, and over again. He learned to predict how weather patterns could influence snake behavior. He saw den sites diminish and ultimately disappear due to human disturbance. And he saw how climate change was altering even the most reliable den locations.

Much of Martin’s knowledge has been published; he contributed to rattlesnake conservation as a member of the Timber Rattlesnake task force for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature for 30 years, and in 2021, Martin co-authored the 475-page book, “The Timber Rattlesnake: Life History, Distribution, Status, and Conservation Action Plan,” with the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. But he recorded his raw data the old-fashioned way—in decades of small, spiral-bound notebooks—and researchers will likely continue to learn from the late great herpetologist long into the future.

While he will certainly be remembered for his contributions to science, those who knew him will never forget the deep reverence he held for nature and the passion that drove his work. BRMC founder Andrea Currier recalls turning to Martin at an evening event on a beautiful hilltop in Front Royal and remarking, “Isn’t this pretty perfect?” Martin replied, “Actually, no,” and explained, “There are no rattlesnakes here!”

“Marty’s happiness was intrinsically tied to the presence and well-being of venomous snake populations,” explains Villari, “especially his beloved timbers.”

A celebration of Marty Martin’s life will be held at Morgan’s Grove Park in Shepherdstown, WV on September 25th at 1 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Catoctin Land Trust ( or the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy (

This article first appeared in the September 2022 Issue.


Kuhn Family Land Donation Makes New Park Possible

Fairfax, Virginia (June 28, 2022) – NOVA Parks has acquired a 128-acre riverfront property in Loudoun County. A donation by philanthropists Chuck & Stacy Kuhn of half the value of the land ($900,ooo) and an equal grant from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) made this addition to the parks agency possible. The LWCF is a federal program which provides 50 percent matching funds to state agencies and localities for the acquisition and development of outdoor recreation resources. 

“Acquiring this new land overlooking the Potomac River is right in line with NOVA Parks’ 2023-2027 Strategic Plan, which places a high value on protecting natural resources and our shared environment,” said NOVA Parks Chair Cate Magennis Wyatt. “NOVA Parks’ plans to plant trees and restore habitat will greatly increase the ecological value of the land and protect the Potomac River.”

This morning, Chuck & Stacy Kuhn, owners of JK Land Holdings,  JK Moving Services, and CapRelo, NOVA Parks Chair Cate Magennis Wyatt, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, Supervisor Kristen Umstattd, and other community leaders signed the deed at the property, which will become Springdale Regional Park. 

“Creating this new park helps fulfill our goals of having more green and open space and providing Loudoun citizens with opportunities to enjoy Loudoun’s beauty” said Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall. “We’re grateful to NOVA Parks and Chuck & Stacy Kuhn for their role as stewards of Loudoun County’s rich environmental, historic, and recreational resources.”

Over the past decade, the Kuhns have conserved more than 22,000 acres of land—land greater than the size of Manhattan—ensuring vulnerable vistas and habitats are preserved and protected for future generations. The Kuhns have also won numerous awards, including being recognized by the Washington Business Journal as a Top Corporate Philanthropist and the Old Dominion Land Conservancy for their conservation efforts. In addition to the NOVA Parks donation, they have protected multiple area landmarks and natural habitats by buying and conserving:

·        500-acre Wolver Hill Farm in Middleburg

·        Historic White’s Ferry in Maryland

·        135-acre Westpark golf course in Leesburg that is being transformed into a park

·        JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary, 87 acres in Loudoun with rare wetlands, native plants, and wildlife 

·        150-acres in Purcellville used to start the JK Community Farm, a charitable effort that alleviates hunger by growing chemical free crops and livestock and donating them to local foodbanks

·        Historic and now fully renovated Middleburg Training Center 

·        Several thousand acres near Loudoun’s historic villages

·        Two contiguous parcels of land in Saint Louis, Virginia, one of county’s first African American townships, into conservation easement to protect the 42 acres from development

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation deemed the property eligible for this federal grant because it met the criteria of the Virginia Outdoors Plan (VOP) goals for land conservation. The VOP aims to protect undeveloped land and waterways that provide essential benefits to society, such as clean air, clean water, food, fiber, open space for recreation, and a sense of place. The VOP prioritizes land along major rivers, like the Potomac.

The purchase saves the property from residential development, as it was once destined to become a subdivision for 16 single family residential lots. Instead, with the adjacent land already owned by NOVA Parks, the new park will comprise 278 acres and ¾ of a mile of Potomac River front. Springdale Regional Park will be able to enhance the natural habitat and to offer future families the chance to visit the park, experience nature, and learn about its rich history. The property was once an important area for Native Americans, who fished along the nearby Heater’s Island. 

The first pillar of NOVA Parks’ soon-to-be-finalized 2023-2027 Strategic Plan is protecting the environment. This includes actively acquiring and managing many of the largest intact natural areas in the region. NOVA Parks’ efforts to restore natural resources like riparian buffers—which protect waterways—and to plant trees—which remove ozone-depleting carbon from the air, address the root causes of climate change and help our region be more climate resilient.


About NOVA Parks

Founded in 1959 as a conservation organization, NOVA Parks (Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) is the only regional park authority in Virginia. It represents three Northern Virginia counties and three cities—Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, the City of Alexandria, the City of Falls Church, and the City of Fairfax. The regional agency manages 34 parks with 12,335 acres of parkland, including waterparks, golf courses, campsites, historic sites, event venues, boat launches, annual holiday light shows, and a high adventure ropes course.

About JK Land Holdings

JK Land Holdings, LLC (JKLH) —owned by Chuck & Stacy Kuhn—seeks land acquisitions that can be sold, leased, developed, placed into conservation easement, or utilized by sister companies JK Moving Services and CapRelo, a global employee relocation and assignment management firm serving private and public sector clients. JKLH was founded in 2016, and has reinvested monies gained from land acquisition into protecting properties and tracts of land from future development.

Virginia’s Largest Private Land Trust Protects Another 182.4 Acres in Albemarle County

Virginia’s Largest Private Land Trust | December 12, 2018

The Land Trust of Virginia, holding more conservation easements than any other private land trust in the Commonwealth, is pleased to announce that 182.4 acres of entirely forested land, located southeast of Batesville, Virginia, is forever protected through the landowner’s donation of a conservation easement.  Located in Albemarle County, Miran Forest has been protected with the intention of providing public access in perpetuity by the landowners, the American Environment Foundation.

The landowners have protected their property with the intention of providing public access in perpetuity for hiking and quiet enjoyment.  There is an existing public trail on the property, located along the forested steep western slopes of Long Arm Mountain.  The trail leads to the highest point on the property at the peak of the mountain, known locally as High Top.  From the peak, hikers can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding valley floors and nearby mountains.  Craig Davis, head of the American Environment Foundation said, “Our primary interest in protecting the property is to allow the wildlife a safe habitat and for people to enjoy the quiet of this beautiful mountainside.”

This property is highly visible from the Appalachian National Scenic Trail as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway and portions of the Shenandoah National Park and George Washington National Forest, making it a highly valuable property to protect in perpetuity.  The recording of this easement further enhances the existing land protections in the area.  Directly adjacent to Miran Forest is a property consisting of 206 acres under conservation easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.  Additionally, there are numerous other conservation easements in close proximity adding important protections to the Virginia countryside.

Located approximately 2.5 miles north is another property in conservation easement with the Land Trust of Virginia, the Miller School of Albemarle.  This 637.4-acre conservation easement was recorded in 2016 and will forever protect numerous natural resources, open space, and scenic views for all to enjoy, especially the students of the school.  This property could have been divided into 34 different properties.  Both conservation easements, over the Miller School and Miran Forest, have no division rights retained, meaning that neither can ever be divided for development.

While a lot of work is being done in Albemarle County, there is still a lot more to do to ensure that bucolic Virginia is protected for generations to come.  The Land Trust of Virginia invites landowners, interested in hearing more, to contact Sally Price at [email protected].