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122 rural acres in Stafford County designated as perpetual conservation easement
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122 rural acres in Stafford County designated as perpetual conservation easement

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By 2050, most of us will be living in cities. But already our urban centers are failing us. Air and noise pollution, traffic chaos, lack of green spaces. How can we improve urban mobility for us and future generations?

More than 100 acres of the historic Spotted Tavern Farm at Dodd’s Corner in Hartwood will be preserved as a perpetual conservation easement—free from development—under Stafford County’s Purchase of Development Rights Program.

“The conservation easement will preserve not only critical cultural resources, but also provide environmental benefits through preservation of forests, wildlife habitats, wetlands and waterways,” said Edwin Martinez, a Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservationist. “The fields and forest support a varied population of wildlife, and recent and planned management activities will help protect habitat for quail and various pollinator species for years to come.”

The county’s PDR program allows the county to acquire conservation easements voluntarily offered by property owners to ensure that valuable resources are protected and efficiently used, while limiting the risk of potential sprawl.

Under the program, the landowners retain their property, but have restrictions as to what can be built on the property in the future.

Prior to the latest 122-acre acquisition of the Hartwood tract, up to 36 traditional 3-acre lots or 38 clustered lots could have been developed on the rural property. Now, construction on the property is limited to only one dwelling per 100 acres.

Eleven county farms making up 980 acres of land are now protected under the county PDR program. This has prevented an additional 259 homes from being developed in the area.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provides matching funds to landowners through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. Last week, the USDA announced it had surpassed 5 million acres enrolled as conservation easements.

“USDA is committed to partnering with our nation’s farmers, ranchers and private landowners to conserve our nation’s natural resources for future generations and deliver conservation and recreational benefits to rural America,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

For more information on Stafford County’s Purchase of Development Rights program, visit

James Scott Baron:


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