Landowner Resources

Want to make sure your land stays in farming or forestry? Here are some options available to help landowners in Shenandoah County.
Land use assessment was adopted in Shenandoah County in the 1970’s to encourage conservation of farm and forest land by assessing working lands at their land use value instead of their fair market value. This two tier system makes good sense, since farmland requires few tax-funded services. If the land changes use, the landowner must pay back the difference between use value tax and the fair market value tax for the previous six years. Visit the County website or call 459-6179 for more information.

Ag and Forestal districts are created by the county at the request of landowners to temporarily protect forests and farmland. By establishing a District, property owners agree not to convert their farm, forestland, and other open space to more intense commercial, industrial or residential uses for a term of four to 10 years. In return, the district guarantees land use taxation, provides some protection against eminent domain, and discourages county or state actions that threaten the farming or forest purposes of district. Contact the county’s Community Development Office at 540-459-6185 to discuss your options as a landowner.

Conservation easements are land protection agreements between a landowner and a land conservation organization or agency designed to protect working farm and forest land, historic battlefields, and other natural or scenic resources.  Conservation easements are flexible, voluntary and permanent, and state and federal tax incentives make it possible for many landowners to donate easements.  Shenandoah Forum can help connect you with the right state agency or private organization to explore a possible easement.

Purchase of Development Rights (PDR’s). To sustain the county’s agricultural economy and keep new growth close to town, Shenandoah County’s conservation easement authority works with landowners who wish to permanently protect their land. PDR’s or donated easements are a good choice for landowners who do not wish to develop but want to continue to enjoy traditional rural land uses like farming, forestry and recreation.   

Battlefield preservation. If you have land on one of the county’s four Civil War battlefields, contact the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation to explore options for preserving the historic values of your property.

Want more information?

Download the booklet Protecting Shenandoah Valley Lands: A Landowner’s Guide compiled by our partners at Valley Conservation Council and Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.

Or contact Kim Woodwell and she will connect you with the right people to help.

Kim Woodwell, Executive Director