Stafford County was notified last week that it was one of six Virginia localities receiving grants for farmland preservation. Stafford’s award, which comes from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services/ (VDACS) Office of Farmland Preservation, totals $111,618. The grants are provided as matching funds for local Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs, which preserve working farmland. Over the years, Stafford has successfully applied and received eight VDACS grants, for a total of more than $1,547,000 in funds paired with other resources to help preserve farmland and open space in Stafford County.
“The Purchase of Development Rights Program is one of the tools we are using to manage the rapid growth in Stafford County. To date, seven farms are protected by PDR, with 659 acres between them,” said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Gary Snellings.
PDR programs compensate landowners who work with localities to preserve their land permanently by voluntarily securing a perpetual conservation easement. Stafford will match the state awards toward the purchase of new development rights. In 2017, Stafford received 11 new applications for potential easement acquisition under the PDR program. The Board of Supervisors authorized moving forward with the 2018 VDACS grant in October of 2018.
Stafford joins Albemarle, Clarke and Fauquier counties as well as the cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach in sharing the total $633,381 awarded to the localities by VDACS. These grant allocations bring the total allocation of state matching funds to $12.4 million since 2008, when PDR funds were first distributed.
Seven farms are in Stafford’s PDR program for a total 659 acres, retiring 170 development rights. For more information on the program, please visit www.staffordcountyva.gov.