What is the CEA?
The Clarke County Conservation Easement Authority was created by Ordinance of the Clarke County Board of Supervisors on June 18, 2002 to administer the Clarke County Easement Purchase Program (CEP Program). The general purpose of the CEP program is to protect and preserve land with significant agricultural, natural, scenic, and historic resources. In furtherance of the general purpose, the specific duties of the CEA and the CEP Program include, but are not limited to:
- developing selection criteria for easement properties
- promoting the CEP Program in Clarke County
- identifying and pursuing potentially valuable easements,
- soliciting and receiving voluntary applications from property owners
- ranking applications in accordance with the Selection Criteria
- selecting proposed easements to be appraised and commissioning appraisals for them
- determining the Purchase Price for selected parcels using the appraised value of the proposed easement and the Income Criteria
- applying for and pursuing grants, other funding, and gifts from the Virginia Land Conservation Fund, other state or federal agencies, and private persons or entities;
- monitoring properties to determine compliance with the terms of easements purchased, and taking action to enforce compliance if necessary
- conducting periodic reviews of the CEP Program to determine if its purposes are being met
The program is housed within the Clarke County Planning Department and managed by the Natural Resource Planner who works under the direction of the seven-member Conservation Easement Authority to promote and oversee the program.
The Easement Purchase Program has been funded annually by the Board of Supervisors in the county budget or by special appropriation. Since 2003, the Supervisors have appropriated $150,000 per year from end of year funds to support the program. The local funding has been supplemented by grants received from the Shenandoah Resource Conservation and Development Council, Virginia Outdoors Foundation, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Farm and Ranchland Protection Program. Details on grant funding will be detailed later in the report.