Chuck Kuhn, founder and president of JK Moving Services in Sterling, was presented an award for his land preservation efforts by the Old Dominion Land Conservancy (ODLC) .
Kuhn received the Commonwealth Steward Award for preserving more than 1,000 acres of land in Loudoun County at an event Oct. 12 at Middleburg Training Center, which is one of Kuhn’s preservation efforts.
“What we are trying to do in general, and what my wife and I feel strongly about, is protecting the open spaces,” Kuhn said. “In Loudoun County, we have put about 1,100 acres into a conservation easement and we are in the process in Fauquier County of putting another 800 acres into a conservation easement.
“With that, we have put almost 2,700 acres into it over the last four years, and over the next 24 months we will be putting another 2,500 acres into the program, mostly in Loudoun County.”
According to Executive Director Henry Stribling, ODLC was founded, “To preserve the open countryside we all love and cherish. To provide habitats for wildlife. To protect our clean water sources. To create parks and trails. To save farmland from developers.”
In particular, Kuhn said, that last goal was behind his efforts to acquire and protect the Middleburg Training Center.
“There were two developers bidding on the property, and we didn’t want to see that turn into a residential community,” Kuhn said. “So, our first goal was to put it into a conservation easement. Our second goal is to restore the property and rebrand it. Right now, the focus in all on thoroughbred flat-track racing. We want to renovate it and bring in other equine disciplines.”
Virginia Sen. Jill Vogel and Del. Randy Minchew offered introductory remarks touting the success of the land conservation initiative in Virginia at the event, which was co-sponsored by Farm Credit.
“The Virginia Land Preservation Tax Credit is one of our greatest tools to preserve open space and has been tremendously effective in our Virginia Piedmont region,” Minchew said.
Virginia allows an income tax credit for 40 percent of the value of donated land or conservation easements. Taxpayers may use up to $20,000 per year in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and $50,000 per year in subsequent tax years. Tax credits may be carried forward for up to 13 years.
Jorge Espinosa of ODLC said Kuhn was honored for putting several farms into easement near Loudoun’s historic villages. Egypt Farm, near Lincoln, which had been previously owned by developers, and Rogues Hollow is a farm outside of Waterford, a village designated a National Historic Landmark. Espinosa also credited Kuhn with facilitating the easement of Camp Highroad, bringing to a total of over seven easements encompassing over 1,900 acres in Lincoln.
A member of the National Land Trust Alliance, Old Dominion Land Trust currently holds 8,500 acres of land in the easement and is currently working with the Robert & Dee Leggett Foundation and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to create the first State Park in Loudoun County.
JK Moving is the largest independent moving company in North America. Kuhn’s other land holdings include Spring Hill Farm, a 744-acre farm in Fauquier County that currently is being considered for the easement.
He said his land conservations efforts reflect his belief that there needs to be a balance between growth and preservation.
“We want to see business growth and residential growth,” Kuhn said. “At the same time, we have to have balance. We have certain areas where we want to protect the open spaces and there are other areas where we want to have planned development. There is space for both.”
George Thompson from the American Chestnut Foundation presented Kuhn with four American Chestnut trees in recognition of his efforts.
“George is a neat guy and he has done some good things with land conservation,” Kuhn said. “There are some neat pioneers that I am learning a lot from, and the county supervisors have been very supportive and we have used Farm Credit to help with the financing on some of the property. They are very tied to the farming community and very pro-conservation.”