There are many federal, state, local, and private sources of funding available to Virginians who want to protect their land. Below are some of the more common programs that VOF has worked with in the past. These programs often have a very specific objective, such as protecting wetlands, natural heritage resources, military installations, and battlefields. VOF staff can help you determine whether you are eligible for any of these programs, and then guide you through the application processes.
The Virginia Land Conservation Fund, which is managed by the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF), was created in 1999 to create an additional source of grant money for the purchase of permanent conservation easements, open spaces and parklands, lands of historic or cultural significance, farmlands and forests, and natural areas. State agencies, local governments, public bodies and registered (tax-exempt) nonprofit groups are eligible to receive matching grants from the foundation for state-funded grant rounds.
VLCF distributes its grants annually through a competitive process. Learn more about VLCF’s grant program here.
Administered by the Virginia Department of Forestry in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Forest Legacy Program (FLP) supports state efforts to protect environmentally important forestlands. The program is designed to purchase land or conservation easements in an effort to protect private land that is threatened by conversion to non-forest uses. FLP is a voluntary program that utilizes federal grant funds to assist states in conserving lands that provide public benefits including sustainable forest resources, clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat, and forested scenic views, as well as protecting sensitive sites and habitats utilized by threatened and endangered species. Learn more at the Department of Forestry’s website.
Some localities allocate funds that can be used for the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) on open-space. These funds are matched in part by state money that is distributed through the Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services’ Office of Farmland Preservation. Funding for these programs varies greatly from year to year, and often relies on partial donations or matching funding from PTF or VLCF to complete projects. For a list of localities that currently offer PDR funding, visit the Office of Farmland Preservation website.
The Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund is administered by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for projects that protect Virginia battlefield lands including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. The sites must be listed in one of the following reports: the Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields by the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission (Civil War Sites Advisory Commission/National Park Service, 1993, as amended) or the Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites in the United States by the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service (U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 2007, as amended or superseded). Projects are evaluated based on significance of the battlefield, threats to the preservation of the site, integrity of the site, financial and administrative capacity of the applicant, and plans for future management for preservation and public benefit among other criteria. All grant awards require a 50-percent match using private or federal funds. For more information, visit VDHR’s website.
There are numerous federal and private programs that offer funding for either the purchase of conservation easements or for the costs associated with donating an easement to VOF or another holder. Some of the more commonly used programs in Virginia include:
USDA Agricultural Conservation Easement Program: Provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits.
Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund: A mitigation program that acquires stream and wetland conservation projects throughout Virginia in order to compensate for impacts to streams and wetlands permitted by state and federal regulatory agencies.
North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grants Program: Provides matching grants to wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Acres for America (National Fish and Wildlife Foundation): Conserves critical habitats for birds, fish, plants and wildlife; connects existing protected lands to unify wild places and protect migration routes; provides access for people to enjoy the outdoors; and ensures the future of local economies that depend on forestry, ranching and recreation.
Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Funding Program (Department of Defense): Combats encroachment that can limit or restrict military training, testing, and operations.