Jefferson County’s Protected Farmland Grows to 5,866 Acres with 51st Farm

Charles Town, WVa –
On July 19, 2021, Nick and Mary Snyder signed their Deed of Conservation for their 306-acre Shenstone Farm in the Kabletown District. The conservation easement protects the historic property originally owned by the Washington family in the 1770s and by generations of the Snyder family since 1892. Today the farm produces hay, grain crops and cattle. “We are delighted to add this beautiful working farm to our portfolio of protected lands,” said Elizabeth Wheeler, Director of the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board. This new easement increases our protected lands to 5,866 acres on 51 farms. The Board has committed funding for 702 acres on another four farms, and we look forward to completing these easements.”

Nick Snyder said, “We are glad this program is available. It is a win for the county by keeping open space and productive farmland for the future. It’s win for my family too. The program allowed us to leave the dairy business without having to sell lots and gives us an opportunity to upgrade to the 21st century for crop production and grass-fed beef.”

According to the Census of Agriculture, between 2012 and 2017 Jefferson County lost 852 acres of farmland to residential and commercial development.

“It has never been more important to preserve farms and sustain our agricultural heritage if we are to remain a viable agricultural economy,” stated County Commissioner Jane Tabb. “The Farmland Protection Program enables us to support our local farmers and protect our quality of life.”

Jefferson County’s continued commitment to farmland protection is reflected in its most recent comprehensive plan. The January 2015 Jefferson County WV Envision Jefferson Comprehensive Plan, states, “One goal of this Plan is to maintain productive farmland soils and the rural character and economy of the County by reducing the conversion of farmland to non-agricultural based uses.”

“Protecting our county’s farmland goes hand in hand with protecting the quality of life in Jefferson County,” said Elizabeth Wheeler, the Board’s Program Director. “Our whole community wins when landowners conserve their land. Local farms provide us with healthy food, support a diverse economy, and protect water supplies, wildlife habitat and the scenic and historical landscapes that make Jefferson County such a beautiful place to live and visit.”

About the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board

The Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board was established under WV Code §8A-12-1 et seq passed in 2000. The law allows West Virginia counties to levy a transfer tax on real estate to purchase development rights from landowners who wish to protect their land for agricultural purposes.

An agricultural conservation easement is a voluntary, legally recorded deed restriction that is placed on a property used for agricultural production. It is a flexible legal tool that enables landowners to permanently protect the agricultural, natural, scenic and historic values of their property from development and subdivision. Property owners retain full use and ownership of the land. Because an easement is perpetual, it is transferred with the property when it is sold, thereby protecting it forever.

The board partners with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, the American Battlefield Protection Program, and other organizations to provide matching funds. “We also accept donations of all or part of easement sales”, said Wheeler, “Landowners may find a donation can allow a significant reduction in Federal income tax. Wheeler said, “The Board welcomes applications at any time but begins the process of scoring and selecting properties in November of each year.”

For more information about the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board, contact the Board at: 304/724-1414 or