CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. —Four Jefferson County landowners entered 156 more acres to up the total acreage in the county’s farmland protection program to 2,562, the program’s administrator said Thursday.
The land transfers represent the 25th and 26th conservation easements accepted so far by the county’s farmland protection board, since its inception in 2000, said Elizabeth Wheeler, administrator.
John Restiano and Mark Schiavone obtained a protection easement for 44 acres in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and Judith Hockman and Margaret Ann Saunders protected 112 acres in Shepherdstown, W.Va., through the program, Wheeler said.
The board has secured commitments and funding, and is in the process of bringing in 845 more acres, Wheeler said. In addition, an application for another 740 acres is in the works this year.
The first 90 acres were brought into the program in 2003.
The board, through negotiations with landowners, acquires the property by purchase or donation and places it in a conservation easement. From that point, the acreage remains in agriculture, the owner retains full use of it and it cannot be developed.
The easement is transferred if the property is sold.
The board pays the owner the difference between the land’s value as farmland — $2,500 to $3,000 per acre — and its development value, which is $7,500 to $8,000 per acre.