CHARLESTON, WV _ The 6th annual West Virginia Land Trust Special Places Award Event will be held Feb. 4, 2010, at The Woman’s Club of Charleston. This year’s honoree, Joyce McConnell is the current dean of the WVU College of Law and also a past president of WVLT.

The Special Places Award is presented to individuals and/or organizations who have significantly benefited WVLT’s vision for the protection of natural lands and scenic areas in the state. The award is given not only for achieving land conservation but also for those who link the permanent preservation of land to broader conservation objectives in West Virginia.

McConnell grew up in Maryland but has developed a deep love for West Virginia, particularly the Greenbrier River and the Cranberry Wilderness which are two of her favorite special places in the state. She is being recognized for her efforts to preserve such areas through land conservation, education and advocacy.

As an attorney she negotiated many of the easements the WVLT currently holds and also counseled numerous individual landowners throughout the state about voluntary conservation easements. In addition to providing technical assistance to communities and land conservation organizations in West Virginia, she also served on a national committee through the American Bar Association to develop model land trust regulations.

According to McConnell, interest in land conservation is growing in West Virginia. “I couldn’t have predicted the success of the WVLT and other land trusts and farmland protection boards when I first came to West Virginia but now I feel that we have grown substantially in our understanding and support for land conservation issues,” she said.

The WVLT is a private, member-supported, non-profit organization and West Virginia’s only statewide land trust. Since its incorporation in 1995, the organization has helped protect over 17,000 acres statewide through voluntary conservation easements. Conservation easements are voluntary contracts between a landowner and a land trust, such as the WVLT, government agency or another qualified organization. These contracts allow the landowner to place permanent restrictions on the future uses of some or all of their property for the purpose of protecting scenic, wildlife, botanical, recreational, agricultural or historical resources.

Conservation easements are donated by the landowner to the WVLT, who in turn has the authority and obligation to enforce the terms of the easement. The property, however, still belongs to the landowner who has exclusive rights to use, sell or give the land to others. No two conservation easements are the same, because they are tailored to individual landowner needs. The WVLT works closely with landowners to afford flexibility and meet the custom needs of each property. The easement document is a legal instrument signed and recorded in the county of record; therefore, restrictions of the easement are permanent and stay with the land forever.

The WVLT’s mission is to help preserve the special places that give West Virginia’s its distinctive character. If you are considering a conservation easement to preserve your property, or would like more information on the Special Places Award Event, please contact Calah Young (866.982.5863 or or visit:


CONTACT: Calah Young, West Virginia Land Trust