Red Hill Plantation in Brookneal was among 19 projects recently awarded a total of $5.89 million in Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) grants to protect more than 17,000 acres of land across the commonwealth.
Acting on a request from the Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation, Red Hill received a $600,000 grant to place an open-space easement on 596 acres at Red Hill Plantation located in Brookneal.
Red Hill, the home of Virginia’s first governor, Patrick Henry, is open to the public 362 days per year. It is the site of an annual U.S. naturalization ceremony held on Patrick Henry’s birthday, as well as a public Fourth of July celebration.
The property contains high value prime farmland, first-generation hardwoods and a slave cemetery containing 147 identified graves and structures that include the former governor’s original law office, original restored slave quarters and a reconstructed blacksmith shop present on the plantation at the time of Patrick Henry’s death.
Red Hill fronts on the State Scenic Staunton River as well as the potential State Scenic Falling River. Red Hill is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Historic Register and was named a National Memorial in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.
These VLCF grants will be used by private land trusts, local governments and state agencies to acquire and project significant lands in the following categories: farmland, forestry, historic resources, natural areas and parks and open space.
The VLCF board is composed of 19 members that are appointed by the governor, the Senate Committee on Rules and the speaker of the House of Delegates. The board includes the Secretary of Natural Resources, who serves as chair, and the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.
Grant applications were reviewed and scored by an interagency workgroup that recommended projects to the board, which approved the awards on Nov. 22. Administrative support for the VLCF is provided by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
In June, Governor Ralph Northam announced a change to the VLCF scoring criteria that aligned it with ConserveVirginia, a new data-driven land conservation initiative and added additional criteria that focuses on water quality improvements. Among the projects receiving grants, 89 percent are located within ConserveVirginia designated areas.