The Conservation Fund and Virginia Outdoors Foundation have partnered to protect the 373-acre Gouldin Farm right outside U.S. Army Garrison Fort A.P. Hill in Bowling Green, Virginia. This property has been the highest priority conservation effort of Fort A.P. Hill’s Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program for the past several years and is within the Priority 1A ACUB area designated by the installation. Its protection will not only secure environmental and economic benefits of the working farmland but will support the Army’s ongoing training operations that are threatened by potential nearby development.
“The Gouldin easement is of strategic importance to Fort A.P. Hill in a high priority area where compatible land use is critical to the sustainment of our military mission,” said Lt. Col. Drew Aswell, garrison commander at Fort A.P. Hill.
“Where this farm lays along US-17 makes it immensely appealing for residential development, which not only would uproot the land’s agricultural and environmental capabilities but would hinder nearby training at Fort A.P. Hill,” said Heather Richards, Mid-Atlantic regional director at The Conservation Fund. “This type of partnership between conservation groups and the U.S. Army is truly unique and demonstrates that economic growth and environmental conservation don’t need to be mutually exclusive.”
“The ACUB Program benefits the environment, landowners, local communities and the Army, all of which are supported by and in turn support one another,” said Col. Alicia Masson, commander of the
U.S. Army Environmental Command. “It is the epitome of striking the balance between being a steward of the environment and a good neighbor, while striving to accomplish the military mission in the most effective ways possible.”
This easement, which was facilitated by The Conservation Fund and will be held by VOF, is the latest effort in a larger initiative spanning over two decades by the partners to protect land along the Rappahannock River from Fort A.P. Hill down to the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
“VOF is proud of our long partnership with the U.S. Army and The Conservation Fund to protect thousands of acres around Fort A.P. Hill,” said VOF Executive Director Brett Glymph. “Gouldin Farm is a wonderful family farm located in a critical spot and fills in a puzzle piece on Route 17 among seven other VOF easements.”
Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program. Authorized and funded annually by Congress, the REPI program supports cost-sharing partnerships between the military services, private conservation groups, and state and local governments to remove or avoid land-use conflicts near installations. REPI funding provides critical support for Fort A.P. Hill’s ACUB program by helping protect lands surrounding the base from development that would affect the Army’s training mission, such as their ability to do night flights in that area. Since its creation in 2006, ACUB at Fort A.P. Hill has helped to protect more than 13,500 acres in the region surrounding the base, including Gouldin Farm and other adjacent protected properties.
“We are very thankful for the opportunity to work with the Army’s ACUB program and the Virginia Land Preservation Tax Credit to preserve this farm forever,” said Cory Garrett, the Gouldin Farm property owner. “I grew up farming this land with my father and grandfather and we look forward to sharing more special memories on this land with the generations to come. With the continued pressure from growth and development it is a comfort to have organizations that share our same values in protecting our land.”