A Look into History: Featured Properties
Before the final signature was penned upon the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson made one last change. Our unalienable Rights were amended from “Life, Liberty and Property” to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our unalienable right to property has a direct correlation with our right to pursue happiness. For, with property comes responsibility and with responsibility comes dignity and purpose. With its boundless supply of land, immigrants came to America to pursue just that. They came here to build their legacy upon the land they now called their own.
Clay Hill -
Clay Hill Farm is the embodiment of such legacy. Located in Amelia County, this 1,600 acre property was once an 8,000 acre working plantation. Clay Hill Farm spans over 1,000 acres of contiguous mature hardwood forest, a rarity in this part of the state. Arthur Lehman inherited Clay Hill from his father and sister, and lived on the farm from 1944 until his death in 2018. Arthur was a diesel mechanic for Tyson Foods, and a very proud member of the Virginia Army National Guard, Richmond Light Infantry Blues Battalion as a combat engineer from 1959 to 1965. He also served six months active duty in the United States Army. Arthur was a patriot with a very strong tie to his land, never cutting down a tree unless it was dying or had already fallen. Wishing to conserve Clay Hill Farm for public benefit and wildlife habitat, Arthur donated his property to WFV in December 2017. I was fortunate to spend time with Arthur in the weeks prior to his passing, and several times, we visited Clay Hill Farm to hear his stories and bear witness to his passion and dedication to Clay Hill. Currently, the land is in the process of being transferred to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, where it will become a new Wildlife Management Area. WFV is honored to be a part of telling Arthur’s story, and ensuring that his legacy will be upheld in perpetuity.
Fulfillment Farms —
Fulfillment Farms is a story of conserving passion. In 1997, Tom Forrer owned 1,910 acres in Albemarle County. Mr. Forrer’s grandfather, Thomas Griffin Herring was a member of the board of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in the 1930’s – 1950’s, and Mr. Forrer was passionate about access to public recreation. He understood the role his farm could play in ensuring that everyone has access to the outdoors, and donated Fulfillment Farms to WFV in 1997. A monument stands at the entrance to Fulfillment Farms in Mr. Forrer’s honor, with an inscription describing his wish for the property to be enjoyed by “devotees of nature.” With its robust wildlife resources, forests, and public access, we are proud to fulfill his wish from 21 years ago.
Well known conservationist, Aldo Leopold once said, “Wilderness is the very stuff America is made of.” The land we seek to acquire, conserve and manage at the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia is the same land that holds the legacy of many an American. It is brought to our attention by a man or woman who wishes to impart upon the landscape of Virginia their heritage that is embedded in the soil that makes up our country. These private landowners know the value of land beyond its monetary number, understand the intrinsic happiness and wholeness one encounters when immersed in outdoor recreation, and wish to share this opportunity for the public interest by conserving their land with the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia.