BOTETOURT COUNTY, VA (March 23, 2018)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today commended the inclusion of Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) funds in the federal Omnibus bill to permanently protect the 4,672-acre “Grace Furnace” property in southwest Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains. Located at the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay, the conservation of the property will preserve a local recreational asset and protect the water quality of the James River as it flows to the Chesapeake.
Omnibus Bill Provides Land and Water Conservation Funding to Permanently Protect ‘Grace Furnace’ Property in Southwest Virginia
The “Grace Furnace” property was purchased by OSI in December 2016. With the funds provided through the federal budget agreement, the property is expected to be transferred to the USDA Forest Service as an addition to the Jefferson National Forest. The parcel includes 14 freshwater springs that empty into Craig Creek, a tributary of the James River.
The property also includes access to over ten miles of habitat for the brook trout. Once thriving in mountain streams and high valley creeks, the remaining intact populations of native brook trout are currently relegated to isolated mountain headwater streams.
“We congratulate our federal leaders for ensuring the permanent protection of the Grace Furnace property,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “This significant conservation project offers large-scale watershed and habitat protection, as well as premier recreational value, including critical access for fishing. We are proud of the role OSI played in originally securing this property, preventing it from being disassembled and developed. It is an important accomplishment for us, and we thank the Chesapeake Conservancy for their support in leading the Rivers of the Chesapeake collaborative and their dedication to the health and safety of the Bay.”
The Grace Furnace, a coldblast charcoal furnace located on the property, is an historic “pig iron” furnace that dates from the early 19th century, and likely supplied iron ore for munitions during the Civil War.