Our board bids farewell to another great board member – Susan Whalton – as she completes her 8th year with the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board. Susan served as board secretary for most of her two terms and was honored at a dinner at the Peking Restaurant in downtown Martinsburg. The full board was present, as well as our other just-retired 8+ year board member, Floyd Kursey. With Susan and Floyd’s mandatory retirement we retired 16+ years of institutional knowledge and experience. Each board member had great things to say about Susan at the dinner, and Susan had something to say to each of us too!
Two new This Land is Protected Forever signs have be raised – both associated with Bunny Brook Farm, which the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board closed an easement on in October of 2016. The signs, one on Jacobs Road and the other along Scrabble Road, mark the western and eastern boundaries of the 112 acre farm, respectively. Shown above is former board chairman Floyd Kursey, now retired from the program, helping to place one of the signs.
Not all property owners wish to erect such signs on their land, so you may be commuting or driving past projected farmland without knowing it! Whether a property owner chooses to place one of our signs or not, we’re grateful for their interest in helping to protect farmland in Berkeley County.
Martinsburg 27 October 2016 – The Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board passed a big milestone with the retirement of board chairman Floyd Kursey today. Illustrated below are members of the farmland protection board, the Kurseys, and members of the Berkeley County Council following a ceremony that recognized Floyd’s outstanding 8-1/2 year term on the board. At the same regular session, the Berkeley County Council moved to appoint John “Brad” Langdon to serve as Floyd’s replacement. The entire board will greatly miss Floyd. He brought to the board a style of governance unmatched in public service. The board is also excited to welcome Brad Langdon and looks forward to working with Brad over the years to come.
The Ceremony acknowledging outstanding service by Floyd Kursey who spent 8-1/2 years in service to the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board. Front row, left to right: Barbara Bratina, BCFPB; Dan Lewis, BCFPB; “Mke” Kursey; outgoing BCFPB member and Chair, Floyd Kursey; Elaine Mauck, BCFPB; Susan Whalton, BCFPB; Carla Kitchen, BCFPB. Back row left to right: Incoming BCFPB member Brad Langdon, CC, Honorary Council member Brianna Phillips (I think that was her name, right?) CC, CC, Mark Schiavone, BCFPB Executive Director; Sandy Hamilton, BCFPB.
In mid September and early October the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board closed on two more properties, bringing the number of protected farms and wooded lands to 48 and increasing the protected acreage to 4,718. One property is 44 acres in the Van Clevesville area while the other is 112 acres between Scrabble and Beddington. We’re very pleased to have been able to close on both of these important farms!
Martinsburg, WV – The Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board has announced that deadlines are approaching for application into one of two new funding programs for the purchase of conservation easements. “One program is the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP”, explains Mark Schiavone, Executive Director of the Farmland Protection Board. That program, which will provide up to $1 million in matching monies from the USDA, will focus on properties that have attributes that may affect water quality in the Potomac River drainage basin, which encompasses eight counties in West Virginia. “Properties with sinkholes, caves, springs, wetlands, and those that border creeks or streams, are on limestone or karst, or which have mature forests, are all good candidates for RCPP”, says Schiavone. RCPP is a two-year program and applications for year one are due on September 1st.
A second, smaller program provides matching funds from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection through the Federal 319 grant program. Schiavone explained that this program will focus on the purchase of conservation easements on properties located within the Back Creek watershed. Smaller in scope than RCPP, this 319 grant program is intended to purchase conservation easements on up to 100 acres within the Back Creek watershed. We’re hopeful that we will be able to purchase conservation easements on properties directly fronting Back Creek, which should be helpful in conservation efforts to protect the water quality in this important watershed, explained Schiavone. The deadline for submission to this program is October 3rd, 2016.
The forms required for this year’s submission are available several ways. “We have placed the forms, along with general instructions, on the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board’s website”, Schiavone said. The web address is berkeley.wvfp.org/rcpp for the RCPP program and Berkeley.wvfp.org/back creek for the Back Creek 319 program. The general application form is all that is required for the Back Creek 319 program. Interested property owners may also request the forms by email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org. Lastly, individuals may contact the office and schedule to meet with the program executive director. The Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board offices are in the Dunn Building on the third floor. The street address is 400 West Stephen Street in Martinsburg and the phone number is (304) 260-9250.
For more information contact: Mark Schiavone
phone: (304) 260-3770
mobile: (304) 260-9250
The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is finally getting underway. This program focuses on purchasing conservation easements within the Potomac River watershed in West Virginia. That region includes just eight counties (Berkeley, Jefferson, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, Morgan, and Pendleton) and funding has been awarded to the amount of nearly $900,000 per year for two years. We are hopeful that this project will receive a third-year extension as well. These are matching funds, so the farmland protection boards in these counties, in addition to the West Virginia Agricultural Land Protection Authority, must be able to contribute half of the purchase price for an easement.
With the focus on protecting waters of the Potomac River, and by way of drainage, the Chesapeake Bay, the RCPP program will focus on properties with conservation values that support this goal. This means that properties with significant stretches of running creeks and/or rivers; that is on Karst (limestone); contains springs, caves, and sinkholes; and land with large tracts of mature forests (but which may not exceed 66% of the total acreage) are all highly valued.
The local farmland protection boards are sponsoring a public meeting at the Holiday Inn Martinsburg, located at 301 Foxcroft Avenue, on Tuesday 7 June from 7:00 PM until 8:00 PM. Light refreshments will be served. Attendance is not mandatory for participation in RCPP. Additional information may be found at our website at the RCPP Project Page.
We have been informed that the West Virginia Agricultural Land Protection Authority has funds available to match local monies for the purchase of conservation easements. This is a competitive process and any county in West Virginia with a farmland protection board may apply. If you are currently in our 2016 applicant pool you are eligible and letters to these applicants were mailed early this week. The applications will be processed locally in our office and sent to Charleston before 15 June 2016 for competitive ranking. Here is a copy of the WVALPA Ranking Sheet that the state uses. Properties that are large and have a high percentage of either prime or state-wide important soils will rank high, along with properties that have agricultural, and residential infrastructure present. Contact our office at (304) 260-9250 or email@example.com for more information.
Seminar on Conservation Easements, Taxes, and Estate Planning Was Well Attended
Local Lawyer David DeJarnett, of the firm Bowles Rice gave a seminar on Saturday 27 February 2016 on the topic of how taxes and estate planning relate to conservation easements. About 30 interested landowners and nine board members and staff from the three sponsoring conservation trusts attended. The seminar was held at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library and ran from 1 until 2:30 PM. Mr. DeJarnett outlined several scenarios for a hypothetical farm and explained how each scenario would affect the property owner’s tax and potential estate planning differently. The sponsoring organizations, the Berkeley and Jefferson County Farmland Protection Boards and the Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle thank Mr. DeJarnett for giving up valuable time and presenting a very informative seminar. For those who would like to see a copy of Mr. DeJarnett’s presentation, jump to the Learning Center.
Martinsburg – A workshop titled “Conservation Easements, Taxes and Estate Planning” will be held at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library on Saturday February 27th from 1:00 until 2:30 PM. The event is free and open to the public. The workshop will be presented by Mr. David DeJarnett of the law firm Bowles Rice. “Mr. DeJarnett specializes in estate and trust planning, and business and tax issues and is well known within the conservation easement community”, said Mark Schiavone, Executive Director of the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board. The Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board, along with the Jefferson and Morgan County Farmland Protection Boards, and the Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle are sponsoring this seminar.
“The seminar is for people who may not know certain things about the financial and tax aspects of a conservation easement.” said David DeJarnett. “For example, do you know it’s your choice whether you pay income tax on the payment for a conservation easement?” Other topics DeJarnett will address during this seminar include answers to the following questions: Do you know it is possible to qualify for an income tax deduction even if you receive payment for a conservation easement? Do you know you can buy more land with the payment for a conservation easement? Do you know the executor of an estate can grant a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is a legal agreement that protects certain conservation values of a property, mainly by limiting future subdivision of the land. They are common in the Eastern Panhandle and presently over 9,800 acres of land, mainly working farms, are under conservation easements. “The seminar is targeted toward people who own 20 acres or more and are interested in learning about conservation easements, especially as they relate to tax and estate planning”, said Schiavone. In the event of a winter storm, the seminar will be held on Saturday March 5th at the same time and location.
For more information, contact the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board:
phone: (304) 260-3770
Friday 24 October 2015 – Martinsburg
The Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board is soliciting cost proposals from appraisers qualified to conduct yellow book and IRS appraisals of properties under consideration for the purchase of a conservation easement. There are three projects within this broad request for cost proposal: (1) a time-certain yellow book appraisal of three properties. The draft appraisals, ready for review by an appraiser appointed by the USDA/NRCS are due no later than 8 January 2016. The successful candidate must be willing to work quickly to address any issues that arise as a result of this review. The final, approved yellow book appraisals are due in Morgantown no later than 1 March 2016. (2) a yellow book appraisal on a single property with a draft due date of 28 January 2016. The time constraints for second review and completion are negotiable. (3) IRS appraisals to note the restricted use value of two properties. The draft deadline for this set of appraisals is also due 28 January 2016 and the constraints for final version are also negotiable.
All properties are located in Berkeley County, West Virginia. The cost proposals are due by 5 PM on Monday 16 November. At 5:15 PM the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board will review the received proposals and announce the successful candidate(s) at a noticed special meeting.
Contact F. Mark Schiavone, Executive Director, for supplementary materials such as tax maps and satellite imagery of the target properties. Preferred contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, secondary contact: (304) 260-9250.