Photo Courtesy of Northern Neck Land Conservancy
Mt. Zion Farm Conserved
Since 2004, the Northern Neck Land Conservancy has partnered with conservation-minded landowners to place over 5,000 acres of Northern Virginia in conservation easements. Their conservation work is driven by a desire to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the Northern Neck, a peninsula of Virginia bordered by the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers.
In 2019, they worked with Lake Cowart, the owner of Cowart Seafood Corporation, to protect 310 acres of his Mt. Zion farm in a conservation easement. As one of the largest oyster planters on the East Coast, Lake Cowart’s business relies on the quality of the water in the Chesapeake Bay. Putting his farm under conservation easement was Cowart’s way of doing his part saying “Everything in the oyster business is so dependent on what happens on the land. We need to be careful with our acreage to protect this watershed.”
For this project, the Northern Neck Land Conservancy partnered with the Trust for Public Land, which facilitated the purchase of the conservation easement using Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative funding through the Navy. The Virginia State Tax Credit program was also utilized.
The easements of the Northern Neck Land Conservancy protect the region’s chief economic industries of farming, fishing and forestry. They enhance wildlife habitat and protect the region’s quality of life.