ROANOKE, VA—The Open Space Institute (OSI), USDA Forest Service, and the Chesapeake Conservancy today announced the completion of a large-scale conservation project in western Virginia. The project, which adds property originally protected by OSI to the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, was completed through the use of federal Land and Water Conservation Funds, as well as private dollars.
The 4,660-acre “Grace Furnace” property is one of the largest tracts to be acquired for conservation purposes in Virginia in decades. Its protection will preserve a local historic asset, enhance recreation access, and protect the water quality of Craig Creek, a tributary to the James River and the Chesapeake Bay.
The land was purchased by OSI in 2016 with funding from the Wyss Foundation. This month, OSI then conveyed the property to the Forest Service, which prioritized the project for funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“Permanently protecting the ‘Grace Furnace’ property is a tremendous achievement in large-scale land conservation that will benefit both nature and people,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of OSI. “We are grateful for the support of the Wyss Foundation and to all those who advocate for our nation’s Land and Water Conservation Fund. And we congratulate our partners at the USDA Forest Service and the Chesapeake Conservancy for their unwavering commitment to protecting this property.”
“The protection of the Grace Furnace property is the result of a public-private partnership that will safeguard this unique natural area for generations,” said Greg Zimmerman of the Wyss Campaign for Nature, a Wyss Foundation initiative to accelerate the pace of land conservation. “This land will forever be open to the public for recreation and available to wildlife for habitat; and all the while protecting critical water resources, including the James River and the Chesapeake Bay.”