Clarke recognized abbey’s conservation efforts
With nearly 1,200 acres along the Shenandoah River now in easement, at Holy Cross Abbey was “the perfect choice” as the recipient of the Conservation Easement Authority’s second Mackay-Smith Land Conservation Award, says Alison Teetor, the county’s natural resource planner.
On February 18, Holy Cross’s Abbot Robert Barnes and Father James Orthmann accepted the honor from last year’s winner, Mackay-Smith, whose name is now on the award. “This magnificent property is a gift that will benefit future generations forever,” said Mackay-Smith, reminiscing about the many discussions that led to the easement. “We began talks in 2005, in another lifetime, when easements weren’t well known. It wasn’t easy. At the Abbey, everyone had to agree on the concept. So we kept talking.”
By 2009, the Cistercian monks at Holy Cross agreed to place 204 acres in easement, preserving property within the Cool Spring Civil War Battlefield Historic District, including Cool Spring Farm, a farmhouse built in 1880. In 2013, nearly 1,000 additional acres were added to the easement, retiring 20 development unit rights, or DURs. Today, the entire Holy Cross Abbey property is protected through conservation easement, including more than two miles of the west stream bank along the Shenandoah River.