The Virgin River Land Preservation Association’s focus is to help landowners whose properties have multiple conservation values. We look for open space values recognized by the Internal Revenue Service for their public benefits because this increases the likelihood that a landowner may be able to take advantage of tax benefits associated with the permanent conservation of their land. We note values such as productive farmland, scenic viewsheds, travel corridors, recreation access, adjacency to significant public land, riparian corridors, wildlife habitat, and historical values. The more of these public conservation values contained on a property, the higher priority it receives.
Successful projects develop partnerships with landowners, other non-profit conservation organizations, local governments, business people, funding agencies, and state and federal conservation programs, ensuring preservation of unique and important resources.
Unfortunately, the Land Preservation Association doesn’t have the resources to work on every potential project, especially during difficult economic times when both private foundations and government programs which support conservation work are facing funding challenges. But many landowners are willing to donate all or most of the fair market value of the development rights on their property to fulfill their personal goal to protect the land they love in perpetuity. This enables the Land Preservation Association to do more with limited resources and increases the priority of a project.
Our current projects include:
(click on the link to see a photo!)
Sheep Bridge Crossing
There is a hidden, tree-lined river canyon in Virgin, Utah known to locals, mountain bikers, and a few other adventurers. It is home to a diversity of wildlife species that rely on an abundance of water in the otherwise desert-scrub landscape. Locals enjoy walking its scenic trails, and the popular lower “J.E.M. Trail” and trailhead on the south side of the river are widely known by mountain bikers. These trails and the river pass through a 419- acre privately owned parcel of land which has come to be known as “Sheep Bridge Crossing,” the name given by the landowners to a concept plan for a 275-home subdivision.
Over a year ago, the owners reached out to the local organization that raised the funds to purchase Confluence Park below LaVerkin and Hurricane. They asked if Virgin River Land Preservation Association (VRLPA) and The Nature Conservancy of Utah (TNC) would be interested in buying their Sheep Bridge parcel for conservation. After a year of negotiation, we have a contract to purchase the property for $4.4 million dollars. Now the real work begins! We have met with the Mayor, Town Council and Planning Commission and they have expressed interest and support for a park that blends river corridor conservation with expanded non-motorized recreation opportunities on the bench lands.
In the old days, herds of sheep crossed the original narrow Sheep Bridge, one at a time, to be counted. Please let us count on you! We are asking for donations from individuals, with a goal of reaching 2000 donors to show funders that there is strong support for this project. Here is more information and a pledge form.
Where is it? Click HERE for a map!
Pine Valley Meadows
The green, open meadows of the valley floor give Pine Valley its character and charm. Nestled in the mountains at 6800 feet, Pine Valley has served as a summer sanctuary for desert residents since it was discovered in 1855 by a pioneer as he searched the high mountains for a precious lost cow. VRLPA is working with landowners to protect more than 200 acres of the most sensitive lands in the meadows.
VRLPA is working with the developers of approximately 5,000 acres of private land located at the undeveloped eastern entrance of Zion National Park to protect scenic vistas and wildlife habitat connectivity with conservation easements.
VRLPA has acquired conservation easements on 2,750 acres of scenic rangeland and dryland farmson Smith Mesa but, to fully protect this benchland adjacent to Zion National Park from over development, easements need to be acquired on an additional 3000 acres.
Virgin River Corridor
The riparian corridor between Rockville and Virgin is part of the Zion experience, and is important habitat for sensitive wildlife species.
Confluence Nature Park
VRLPA raised more than $5 million to acquire critical habitat and protect public access on 350 acres in a scenic canyon isolated from urbanization. Adjoining landowners are working with us to expand the park.