BLACKSBURG — The town has formally added another spot to its outdoors recreational inventory.
Via a unanimous vote from the town council, accepted recently was just more than 190 acres of land on Brush Mountain, near the town’s Heritage Park and the area of Glade Road and Meadowbrook Drive.
The town also granted an open space easement on the land to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, which a few years ago directed about $1 million to the local conservation group the New River Land Trust to buy land on Brush Mountain. The long-term plan, some of which has already come to fruition, has been to turn the land into a natural recreation spot.
Town Manager Marc Verniel said the easement helps ensure the land remains a green space but permits recreational features such as trails.
“This is really a partnership between the community, local nonprofits, town and county governments and just volunteers in the community to make this happen,” he said. “No one entity could have done it on their own. It’s just a good example of a good community project.”
While the town received approximately 190.1 acres, another 141 acres went to the US Forest Service.
John Eustis, executive director of the New River Land Trust, said there are more than 6 miles of natural surface multi-use trails on the property, the establishment of which he credited to work done by the Eastern Trail Company and volunteers. The property has been open to the public since early May and has already seen recreational use by more than 4,000 people, he said.
“The New River Land Trust is thrilled to transfer ownership of the first Brush Mountain Park property to the town of Blacksburg,” Eustis wrote in an email. “This addition to the town’s park system was made possible with funding for the property purchase from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation’s Forest CORE Fund and generous community support, which enabled installation of the park infrastructure.”
Eustis said the town was a key partner in each step of the process and said he expects the locality to be a great steward.
The money from VOF for the land originated from payments made by the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline to offset forest land impact caused by the project’s construction.
Before starting its work, Mountain Valley struck an agreement with several state agencies to compensate for forest fragmentation and impacts to water quality that were expected from clearing land and digging trenches for the massive buried pipeline. The state then passed the funds on to several conservation groups.
Verniel said there are also plans to eventually transfer to the town another neighboring 217 acres of Brush Mountain land that the New River Land Trust has already purchased.
“That has the potential for an additional 6 miles of trail on it,” he said.
In addition to the New River Land Trust and the VOF, Verniel touted the work of the Poverty Creek Trails Coalition and the Forest Service. He said more than 1,500 hours of volunteer work went into the recently transferred Brush Mountain land.
Verniel credited much of the project’s relatively quick turnaround to the cooperation between several area entities.
“This is something going from an idea back in 2018,” he said. “That’s pretty quick.”