PEC saves 50 acres in Paris for a memorial
PEC's James Barnes and his assistant, Celia Vuocolo, are restoring a 50-acre tract of land atop Ovoka Mountain in Paris.
The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) wants all land protected, but some land tugs a little harder on the heart of the Warrenton-based conservation organization.
One such tract of land sits atop Ovoka Mountain straddling Clarke and Fauquier counties.
In 2000 PEC purchased over 1,200 acres of Ovoka Farm in Paris, and placed the majority of it in land conservation protective custody as easements, but they kept a small 50-acre mountain-top patch for themselves and enshrined it as conservation holy land renamed the Piedmont Memorial Overlook.
According to James Barnes, project manager for the Piedmont Memorial Overlook, PEC will care for the 50 acres in perpetuity.
"The Piedmont Memorial Overlook is a beautiful site that overlooks one of the most protected landscapes in the Eastern United States," said James Barnes, project manager for PEC's Piedmont Memorial Overlook.
Barnes said PEC has three main goals for this land: to act as a memorial site for this region’s conservationists; to be a showcase and demonstration site for good habitat management practices; and to provide the public access to a spectacular overlook along the Appalachian Trail.
According to PEC, the not-for-profit, received a grant from the USDA to improve wildlife habitat on the property.
Barnes said PEC started renovating a fescue pasture into a native grass and wildflower meadow, as well as working to remove and control woody invasive plants on the property.
Part of that renovation included multiple uses of herbicides to push back very aggressive invasion growth.
"PEC is not a big fan of herbicides, but for this kind of project, it was a necessity," said Celia Vuocolo, assistant project manager of the PEC Piedmont Memorial Overlook.
Barnes said PEC began a second round of bird, pollinator and vegetation surveys as part of Virginia Working Landscapes in May.
According to Barnes, PEC will be hosting all sorts of outreach events at the Piedmont Memorial Overlook which includes bird walks, wild edible walks, land management demonstrations, history hikes, and more.
According to PEC, it was founded in 1972 with the purpose of preserving important attributes of the Northern Piedmont region of Virginia
PEC’s primary service area includes Albemarle, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Loudoun, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock counties, and PEC said it supports work in the Shenandoah Valley and the Washington Metropolitan area through the Shenandoah Valley Network and the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
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