Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Fruit of the Vine

Can Wine save the Shenandoah Valley from overdevelopment? An editorial in a valley newspaper proposes trading conservation easements for development rights. The easements would be used for grapes.
Here's the argument...There is a gold rush under way in Virginia. But the treasure under pursuit is not a precious metal. Rather it is a fruit, a golden-colored grape.
From Berryville in the north down to Roanoke in the south, dot-com millionaires, celebrities, retired civil servants, governors and apple farmers are turning fallow pastures and orchards into row after row of wine grapes........
The winemakers of Virginia, an intrepid group of conservationists, realize they could share goals with local governments to save Virginia from the encroaching sprawl by ensuring that much of Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley in peculiar, remained as agricultural land - which is to say, vineyards - forever.
With development companies eyeing large swaths of land in the valley, local officials must begin to set up an area plans. Realizing that you couldn't halt development, officials must decide to strike a bargain. Anyone who wants to build would have to set aside land that could be used only to grow grapes.
It would not work for county officials to say, you can never build anything here. That takes away folks personal property rights. However, you're looking at a viable agricultural business that can save farmland and the farmers as well as hopefully bring tourism into the area, which also helps other local businesses. Developers must essentially offer a trade. For each house built, and for each acre of land they wish to use, they must buy an easement on 1 acre of land that guarantees its use either to plant vines or trees, or for open space.
Luring wine tourists
It could result in a sort of planned wine country, complete with golf courses and a green belt not at all unlike NAPA Valley. This will make the valley an increasingly pleasant option for day-trippers and other visitors who don't feel like enduring the slog that a trip to the Washington D.C. metro area can often entail.,

Not sure this plan would keep whatever wild places there are in the Valley wild, but it would be pretty.


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