Land Conservation

Stafford County is one of the fastest growing counties in Virginia. Along with the benefits of growth comes the responsibility to protect the working farms that sustain us, the nature preserves that provide vital plant and wildlife habitat, and the historic homes and landscapes that honor and celebrate our past.

Stafford County’s Comprehensive Plan recommends preservation of rural and agricultural areas of Stafford County and establishment of mechanisms for ensuring their continued protection from development. Residents of Stafford care about preserving the rural nature of the county, and often landowners are concerned about what will happen with their land when they are gone. This page serves as a resource for landowners who are interested in protecting their land from development, so that the natural and cultural resources are protected for future generations.

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How to Conserve Land
There are several options to consider when choosing how to protect your land in Stafford County. Your property may qualify for a county-sponsored conservation program, or a private land trust may be a better fit. Stafford County has a formal relationship with the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT), a regional non-profit land trust. We have a dedicated staff person from NVCT that is working in Stafford to assist landowners with the conservation process. There are other private land trusts that are also eligible to hold easements in Stafford County. See the Resources page for more information.

Learn about conservation options here.

Financial Benefits of Conservation
There can be significant financial benefits to conserving your land. The gift of a conservation easement or of title to land may qualify as a non-cash charitable gift, providing you with various tax benefits. A donor applying for tax benefits must hire an independent certified appraiser to establish the value of the easement. Typically, the appraiser will determine the fair market value of the property both before and after it is restricted by the conservation easement, primarily based on the value of the development rights forgone. The difference is the easement’s value, which is the basis for calculating tax benefits. Additionally, there is money available from the county for programs like Purchase of Development Rights (PDR.) More information about county programs can be found under How to Conserve Land.

Learn about available tax benefits here.

The process of conserving land may seem daunting, but there is help available to make the process as smooth as possible. The Resources page provides you with government links and private organizations to help find the right option for you.

Contact Kathy Baker, PDR Administrator, at (540) 658-8675 for more information.