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Offset for pipeline damage to more than double size of Read Mountain Preserve

Offset for pipeline damage to more than double size of Read Mountain Preserve

Only $5 for 5 months

The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to accept $650,000 for the purchase of 304 acres that will more than double the size of the Read Mountain Preserve.

The purchase includes Buzzards Rock, the preserve’s main attraction, which previously has been accessible by permission from the landowner.

Money for the purchase came from the latest disbursement of a fund established last year, when Mountain Valley Pipeline agreed to pay the state $27.5 million to compensate for the forest fragmentation and water pollution that was expected from clearing land and digging trenches for the massive buried natural gas pipeline project.

Virginia then passed the company’s payments on to four conservation groups. The largest share, $15 million, went to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, which awarded $3.9 million in its second round of grants.

Roanoke County received $620,054 from the foundation’s Forest Core grant program to purchase the land from the Andrews/Bradshaw family. The Read Mountain Alliance also pledged $30,000 toward the project’s cost.

The grants will cover the entire purchase price.

The new deed will require the parcel to be kept as open-space land. Roanoke County plans to use the new area for passive recreation, including hiking trails, picnic facilities, kiosks, wayfinding signs and a new trailhead, said Doug Blount, director of parks, recreation and tourism.

The parks and recreation department will develop a master plan for the park that will include new signs and trail improvements. The annual maintenance cost is expected to be less than $2,000.

Blount said the new acreage near Read Mountain is on the northwestern side of the ridge and will protect the mountaintop’s views.

Read Mountain Preserve became a Roanoke County park in 2008. The 243-acre preserve has two conservation easements — one with the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy and one with Virginia Outdoors Foundation. The easements restrict timbering, construction and other land developments.

The park includes a 5-mile trail system. The main feature of the park is a 2-mile trail to Read Mountain’s summit known as Buzzards Rock.

Roanoke County received one of six pipeline-related grants. The other grants went to groups that will protect woodlands located in Bland, Botetourt, Charlotte and Rockbridge counties.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy received $700,000 for the purchase of 237 acres of high-quality forest in the viewshed of McAfee Knob, one of the most photographed vistas on the Appalachian Trail.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation received $452,000 to acquire 100 acres adjacent to the Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve, which will contribute to the scenic views from Salem and Roanoke.

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Alison Graham covers Roanoke County and Salem news. She’s originally from Indianapolis and a graduate of Indiana University.

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