Mission Statement

The VES Land Trust seeks to conserve rural lands which will best preserve the farms, forests, wetlands, waters, and heritage of the Virginia Eastern Shore for the benefit of future generations.

What is a Land Trust?

A land trust is a community-based, private, non-profit organization that encourages balanced community development through voluntary land preservation.

The VES Land Trust was formed by local landowners in 2003 to preserve the Eastern Shore’s prime farm and forest land, its scenic, fragile water front and rural byways, its historic resources and traditional land use patterns, and its world class natural resources and wildlife habitat.

We work with landowners, their families, public agencies and communities in both Accomack and Northampton Counties to promote voluntary land protection options, such as conservation easements.

Like so many other coastal communities, the Shore’s unique rural landscape is in danger of being lost. Forever.

VES Land Trust Goals

We work to preserve the unique qualities of Virginia’s Eastern Shore by:

  • Advising landowners of the economic benefits of conservation easements and other land protection tools.
  • Educating the public about the high value to the community of protecting land in perpetuity.
  • Maintaining productive farms, forests and fisheries.
  • Retaining and enhancing wildlife habitat, wetlands and other productive natural resources.
  • Protecting ample supplies of safe drinking water.
  • Preserving historic resources.
  • Providing recreational opportunities on land and water.

Threatened Future

irginia’s Eastern Shore is one of the few truly rural regions left on the crowded East Coast. Its farms, forests and fisheries are still productive. Its small settlements and larger towns retain a traditional character. Its forests, creeks and marshes support migratory birds and other wildlife that is recognized internationally for its quality and value.

But the Shore’s landscape is swiftly changing. Residential housing increasingly crowds the water
front, while commercial development clutters Route 13. Essential wildlife corridors are becoming fragmented, while vital water resources are placed at risk.

Accreditation Promotes Public Trust, Ensures Permanence

Virginia Eastern Shore (VES) Land Trust, a local non-profit that assists landowners with voluntary permanent land preservation, announced today it has achieved renewed accreditation – a mark of distinction in land conservation. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded renewed accreditation, signifying its confidence that VES Land Trust’s lands will be protected forever.

“Being accredited illustrates to our community that we are working at the highest level of competency in our field. It is a promise that VES Land Trust strictly adheres to the industry’s best practices when working on new conservation easements and stewarding those already in place,” commented John Edmund Tankard III, VES Land Trust President.

Almost 15 million acres of farms, forests and natural areas vital to healthy communities – an area about the size of the state of West Virginia – are permanently conserved by an accredited land trust. VES Land Trust protects 13,786 acres in Northampton and Accomack counties.

VES Land Trust was formed in 2003 by a group of citizens who envisioned a mechanism for local land protection. VES Land Trust works closely with landowners to protect the Eastern Shore way of life, keeping land available for farming, buffering creeks and waterways to protect water quality for recreation and aquaculture, and maintaining natural spaces for wildlife and hunting.

VES Land Trust was among 38 land trusts across the United States to achieve accreditation or to have accreditation renewed in August. VES Land Trust is one of the more than 350 accredited land trusts that demonstrate their commitment to professional excellence through accreditation, helping to maintain the public’s trust in their work.

“It is exciting to recognize VES Land Trust with this distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. “Accredited land trusts stand together, united behind strong ethical standards ensuring the places people love will be conserved forever. This network of land trusts has demonstrated fiscal accountability, strong organizational leadership and lasting stewardship of conservation land.”

Each accredited land trusts must apply for renewal every five years and undergoes a comprehensive review as part of its renewal application. VES Land Trust first became accredited in 2011. The process is rigorous and strengthens land trusts so they can help landowners and communities achieve their goals.