One of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s final actions in office is the creation of a state park in Loudoun.
The park is the result of an agreement under which the Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation will donate 600 acres of the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship along Harper’s Ferry Road.
Friday morning, McDonnell’s office announced that the Old Dominion Land Conservancy of Purcellville reached an agreement with the Department of Conservation and Recreation to donate the 600 acres, which includes historic farmsteads, woods and wildflower meadows, borders the Appalachian Trail, and was the site of action of Mosby’s Rangers and others during the Civil War.
“Through the work of the Leggett Foundation and now the Old Dominion Land Conservancy, lands of both natural and historic significance have been preserved in an area of the state where such lands are rapidly disappearing,” McDonnell said in the announcement. “Because of their most recent efforts many of these lands will be available to future generations as a Virginia State Park.”
The transaction is expected to close later this year.
The process was helped by the work of Del. Randy Minchew (R-10) and Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin), who represents the area.
“The significance of this new state park is immense,” Higgins said in a statement. “This park will be a jewel to Loudoun County, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation.”
Reached by phone this morning, Higgins said he and others have been working on this effort since early in his term, noting there have been several “bumps” along the way, “but we hung in there and tried to find a way around the setbacks to get it done.”
The ultimate goal would be to add around 1,000 more acres to the state park in the coming years, Higgins said, with the possibility of connecting the Appalachian Trail, Harper’s Ferry National Park and the Potomac Heritage Trail.
The 600 acres in Loudoun already are protected by conservation easements secured by the county government as part of its now defunct Purchase of Development Rights program. Establishing the property as a state park opens up more possibilities for the land, Higgins said.
“With this move, this actually gives the public access to all of the parkland…one of the big complaints in the past about these conservation easements is that people got tax treatment that was good for them, so to speak, but the public didn’t get access to the land,” he said. “This will be a public park for state residents, county residents and people across the nation.”
By Erica Jacobson Moore, Leesburg Today
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