These landowners are working to preserve their property’s rich history and ecology
Strolling through the Bullard family’s property outside Strasburg, Virginia, you’ll come across a few remarkable features: old stone walls, the foundation of a large spring-house from the 1800s, ponds and tributary streams--and parts of two Civil War battlefields.
This land outside of Strasburg, Virginia is rich with both historic and ecological value. This makes it a perfect candidate for a conservation easement, which is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and land trust (like Potomac Conservancy). Easements restrict and guide some land uses in order to preserve a property’s inherent conservation value.
Take a tour of this remarkable place and learn how its family decided to protect it for generations to come.
A family devoted to their home
The Bullards aren’t your stereotypical landowners. Blake and Tamara Bullard are in their early 40s, are substantially renovating the property’s historic home and barn, and have four kids! On top of all that, they are proactive about restoring and conserving their property’s land and water.
While the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) will ultimately hold and care for the Bullard easement, Emily Warner, Potomac Conservancy’s Senior Director of Land Conservation, led the landowners down the easement road. She helped them apply to DHR and is currently seeking funding for the project.
The easement won’t stop the family from improving the land (a pick-your-own pumpkin patch may be on the horizon!)- while maintaining its unique history, of course.
History worth remembering
Lying within the borders of the property are parts of the Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek Civil War battlefields. Some of the property’s stone structures date back to the 1820s, meaning they survived the battles that raged across the fields.
So what exactly did this land witness during the war? On September 21 and 22, 1864, during the Battle of Fisher’s Hill, Confederate troops positioned themselves northeast of the present-day Bullard property. As the battle progressed, the Union army advanced, causing the Confederates to retreat through the property along Valley Turnpike (what is now U.S. Route 11).
This victory bolstered Union spirits as the end of the war began to come into sight. About one month after the defeat of the Confederates at Fisher’s Hill, the Union declared another win at the Battle of Cedar Creek. The Bullard property contains about 18 acres of the Cedar Creek Battlefield.
These victories helped cement support for President Abraham Lincoln’s re-election and the Union cause.
Forests and streams worth protecting
If the history of this property isn’t awesome enough, it also holds many beautiful (and beneficial) environmental features. Of the nearly 200-acre property, 155 acres is native forest, complete with two miles of stream-side forest buffers.
These buffers play an important role in keeping the property’s two tributaries, and a stream along it’s southeast order called Mulberry Run, healthy. These soon-to-be-protected waters flow a short distance downhill and provide clean water to the North Fork and Shenandoah Rivers.
Of course the Bullard’s land existed long before the family that currently safeguards it, but thanks to their conservation efforts, it can provide invaluable ecosystem services and historical education for years to come.
This property is just one of many that Potomac Conservancy has placed under a conservation easement, and it reminds us why we are passionate about preventing destruction of such places. From the streams, forests, and fields to the barns, walls, and wells- they all have a story to tell.
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