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Protecting the Northern Neck

Posted on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 2:33 pm

Whenever Mary Louisa Pollard returns to Irvington by way of the Norris Bridge, the Northern Neck presents itself like a portal to another world. With two miles of tidal saltwater between itself and the Rappahannock River’s southern shore, the Neck beckons her home.

“I just breathe a sigh of relief.”

Pollard’s sense of place and love of land was never more evident than in the early 2000s, when she sought like-minded people to consider how to preserve what makes the Northern Neck so special.

The effort spawned the Northern Neck Land Conservancy in 2004. Pollard led the group for the next six years as it linked local landowners to bigger organizations that were legally constituted to place easements on property to preserve open space. During that time, landowners preserved more than 15,000 acres from King George to Kilmarnock by voluntarily placing legal restrictions on their deeds to limit the development and subdivision of their properties forever.

“It seemed like land was being developed without real planning,” Pollard recalled. She was concerned that the Neck’s special character would be lost along with wildlife habitat, quality of life and the health of its waters.

“Open space is what defines the Northern Neck,” she said.  It underpins the region’s main economies of agriculture, commercial fishing, forestry and tourism,” she noted. “Even the Neck’s allure as a peaceful haven for retirees could be sacrificed,” she feared.  “People wouldn’t be coming here to retire or visit on the weekends if we were totally developed.”

For the full article, pick up the latest Northern Neck News 3/27/19

Mary Louisa Pollard, one of the founders and first leader

of the Northern Neck Land Conservancy, reflecting on her

legacy of having conserved thousands of acres of NN

farmland and forestland in perpetuity.