State Awards Grant For McThenia Property

Gov. Ralph Northam announced a number of land conservation grants Tuesday, including one for an easement on the McThenia property in Lexington.

The grant for $180,000 will be used by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to purchase an easement on Andrew McThenia’s 39 acres to allow public access to the Uncas Trail to the Maury River.

McThenia said Tuesday the $180,000, will reimburse him for the original value of the property back when it was not being conserved. The value of the land decreases when it is being conserved, because developer-buyers who might shell out big cash to put something commercial on the property are barred from doing so. With a conservation easement, no future buyers will be able to do anything that would compromise the natural integrity of the land.

The grant will help the Uncas Trail, named after his father, a retired Washington and Lee professor, remain open to the public. The deed to the trail will be handed over to the Rock-bridge Area Conservation Council.

The grant “pretty much guarantees that I will donate a conservation easement to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, and that the Uncas Trail will be incorporated into the deed as a public access component of the conservation easement deed,” McThenia told The News-Gazette.

McThenia said that much time and work has been dedicated toward attaining this goal, and that he has already spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 to create a small lot for hikers to park in, and to develop and clear the trail, among other things.

This project has been in the works for approximately two years, with relations between McThenia and the city fraught at times.

McThenia received the grant for his property because of its significant natural resources. According to the press release from Northam’s office, “The property fronts the Maury for over 5,700 feet and has a natural beach-like area at the foot of the trail ...The entire property lies within the Lexington Barrens and Bluffs conservation site because of the limestone cliffs, sinkholes and barrens, and it also contains areas where a rare plant the ThreeFlower melic grass (Melica nitens) has been found. The property contains several sinkholes that serve to capture most of the surface-water runoff in the upland portion of the property.”

The News-Gazette

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