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MARCH 2013


FROM THE EDITOR An Anniversary For Land Conservation

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the STAFF

David Lillard, Editor/Publisher Jennifer Welliver, Advertising Manager Aundrea Humphreys, Art Director Hali Taylor, Proofreader

CONTRIBUTORS Cheryl Ash Susi Bailey Doug Pifer JiJi Russell Ethan Vaughn Annie Young


Photo courtesy of Clarke County Conservation Easement Authority


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fi rst easement for Clarke County’s Conservation Easement Authority. In one decade the Easement Authority has done more to realize the vision of the county’s future than similar bodies in other places have in a generation. The volunteer board was honored last year with the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, bringing statewide recognition to a conservation effort that is often noted at nation- al gatherings of land-conservation proponents. Their success is something everyone in Clarke County should view with a measure of pride. I live in two places. I reside in Jefferson County, W.Va., but spend the majority of waking hours in Clarke County. As a reporter, I’ve learned about the mechaniza- tions of local planning and zoning ordinances and farmland conservation in both places. And as a founder of a local land trust and for-

mer head of a national conservation group, I ad- mit to being fascinated by how “green infrastruc- ture planning” plays out from place to place. The landscape doesn’t change considerably when you cross from one county to the other, but con- servation practice does. In Jefferson County, by West Virginia law, county comprehensive plans are little more than voluntary guidelines. Changing a parcel’s zon-

ing is often a matter of fi lling out a form. Not surprisingly, there isn’t always rhyme or reason in conservation planning. Townhouse develop- ments can spring up fi ve miles from the closest town on land adjacent to a parcel preserved for its historic signifi cance. Things are different here in Clarke County.

Growth is focused in targeted areas. The compre- hensive plan describes in plain English what it hopes to achieve and who it serves. And the zon- ing ordinance actually fi ts the intention of the comp plan—whether you like it or not. As a result, farmland preservation in Clarke

County is done thoughtfully and according to plan—not in a rush from one crisis to the next. And so Clarke County today still retains the character of Clarke County yesterday. That’s a rare thing. Surely, not everyone is a fan of public funds

going to support conservation. Still, the level of transparency in planning and implementing long-term conservation here in Clarke County is something to be applauded and commended. So, Happy Anniversary to the Clarke County Easement Authority.

There’s more about conservation easements

and the work of the Easement Authority on page 10.

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