Grants available for public open space projects, easement assistance

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The Virginia Outdoors Foundation is making $1.825 million available from its Preservation Trust Fund (PTF) and Get Outdoors (GO) programs for grants that protect open space for public benefit.

Of the total, $1.075 million is reserved for PTF Public Access grants, which may be used to acquire land, easements, rights of way, lease agreements, or other interests in real estate that result in significant public access. The real estate interest must either be acquired by a local government or conveyed to VOF to be eligible for funding, and protection must meet the requirements of Virginia’s Open-Space Land Act.

Another $350,000 is reserved for PTF Easement Assistance grants, which are available to income-eligible landowners who wish to donate an open-space easement to VOF on their property. Easements allow land to be lived and worked on while limiting development rights to protect water quality, prime farming soils, wildlife habitat, and other conservation values. Easement Assistance grants may help pay for any costs that are associated with conveying the easement to VOF, including legal fees, appraisals, processing fees, and survey costs.

The remaining $400,000 is reserved for GO grants, which prioritize projects in communities that have been inadequately served, overlooked, or marginalized by unfair zoning, housing, and land-use practices or other systemic discrimination. The grants may be used to fund infrastructure, studies, planning, and capacity building to enable safe use of, or access to, public open space, as well as for acquisition. Individual projects may receive no more than $25,000. The minimum grant amount is $500.

The application deadline for PTF Public Access and GO grants is 11:59 p.m. EST, August 20, 2021. PTF Easement Assistance grants are offering on a rolling basis as part of the easement donation process. Application forms, eligibility requirements, and other materials may be found online at https://vof.org/ptf and https://vof.org/go. VOF encourages potential applicants to contact staff prior to applying to discuss eligibility and seek guidance on producing a successful application. Contact grants@vof.org or (434) 282-7054 with questions or for information on how to apply.

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