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USDA Deputy Under Secretary Announces Preservation of Key Lands Within the George Washington-Jefferson National Forest

Land and Water Conservation Fund Secures View from Virginia's Spy Rock, One of the Most Scenic Overlooks along the Appalachian Trail

NELSON COUNTY, Va., April 24, 2015 – Today, United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Arthur "Butch" Blazer joined representatives of The Conservation Fund, and the U.S. Forest Service to celebrate the protection of property within George Washington-Jefferson National Forests along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Funding support was provided through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

"This is why the Land and Water Conservation Fund is so important," said Blazer. "By working with the landowners who want to see this land protected, we are continuing the Campbell family's conservation ethic, and preserving clean drinking water with the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The view enjoyed by thousands of Appalachian Trail hikers will remain untouched for future generations."

Owned by one of the first families to settle in Nelson County, the high elevation landscape, cultivated by more than a century of farming, is unique and provides the Forest Service with opportunities to manage the property for the benefit species, like the golden-winged warbler and the brook trout.

Blazer said the 317-acre property not only preserves a portion of the Appalachian Trial and the natural viewshed from Spy Rock scenic overlook, it also supports the health of unique wildlife habitats and provides new access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation. Outdoor recreation in Virginia contributes $13.6 billion in consumer spending and directly support 138,000 Virginia jobs.

With help from the National Park Service, the Conservation Fund purchased the Campbell property in May 2014 and conveyed it to the Forest Service, which prioritized this project for funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Blazer said that the Land and Water Conservation Fund takes a small portion of the money collected from oil and gas development in federal offshore waters and invests it into conservation and recreation projects for the benefit of all Americans. The Fund will expire in September unless Congress votes to reauthorize it. If it is not reauthorized, local communities could be left without a critical source of funding for critically important local projects such as the one we celebrate today.

Blazer said the addition of this land, which is almost completely surrounded by the National Forest, not only enhances Forest Service management, it also ensures that the nearby freshwater system of Louisa Spring Branch, suitable for brook trout, will continue to improve. The property holds the potential to also be culturally significant, with previous discoveries of numerous early American artifacts.

The mission of the Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the Nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.


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