New Wildlife Corridor Through Powhatan County Gets Protection from CRLC Conservation Easement
Powhatan County, VA – The Capital Region Land Conservancy (“CRLC”) recorded the first in a series of conservation easements that will protect wildlife habitat and agricultural land in Powhatan County. Chris Benonis and Christine Cadigan-Benonis donated the conservation easement a year after acquiring the land along Muddy Creek in 2022 with the dream of permanently protecting it with a perpetual easement. The easement protects 87 acres of forest cover, preserves natural resources on the property and helps improve water and air quality.
A majority of the Benonis property ranks in the Top 10 Percent of land in the Commonwealth of Virginie to be protected. This is because it lies within the Agriculture and Forestry Category of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s ConserveVirginia 3.0 model. A portion of the property also falls within the Natural Habitat & Ecosystem Diversity Category. With limits on new structures and impervious surfaces the terms of CRLC’s conservation easement protect undisturbed forested streams and native species that include paw paw, eastern red bud, spicebush, black cohosh and mayapple. The easement also requires nearly three-quarters of a mile of vegetated riparian buffers that will help maintain healthy waters along Muddy Creek for generations to come.
In addition to having a very high ecological core ranking and being within the Virginia Natural Land Network for connectivity between the highest-ranking core areas, the Benonis property is located within the newly designated Central Piedmont Wildlife Biodiversity Resilience Corridor identified in the Virginia Wildlife Corridor Action Plan, which stretches from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Nottoway River and connects to the Great Dismal Swamp. Preserving wildlife habitat in this corridor is one of the core priorities in CRLC’s recently updated Strategic Plan.
The Benonis’s conservation easement also conforms to the local Powhatan County comprehensive plan as required by state code. Specifically, it maintains the rural character of the property and protects land that is “essential to the maintenance of the county’s biodiversity and overall economic health, including the following: environmentally-sensitive lands; prime farmland; inland game and fishery lands; wildlife management land; natural corridors, such as rivers, streams, and creeks that provide habitat linkages throughout the county; and timberland.”
“We became evermore excited by the prospect of stewarding the property for generations to come the more we walked the bluffs overlooking Muddy Creek, explored the old-growth forests in stream valleys, or contemplated the opportunity to utilize the soils to sustain agricultural or forestal activities into the future,” said the owners.
“Working with Chris and Christine has been an easy and straightforward process”, said Jane Myers, Director of Land Conservation. “When we work with landowners who have such a vision for their property, the work and then the outcome is very rewarding.”
Landowners like the Benonis’s who chose to voluntarily protect their land are a critical partner in the efforts to preserve wildlife habitat and natural resources across the Richmond region.
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About Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC): Incorporated in March 2005 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, CRLC seeks to conserve and protect the natural and historic land and water resources of Virginia’s Capital Region for the benefit of current and future generations. Visit www.capitalregionland.org to learn more about CRLC’s land conservation programs.
Parker C. Agelasto
Capital Region Land Conservancy