Restoring Forest and Buffers on Mount Vernon Farm

Cattle graze with mountains in the backgroundCliff Miller and his wife are the fifth generation of Millers to own Mount Vernon Farm in Rappahannock County, Virginia. This active 845 acre farm, which is part of the Thornton River watershed, has been in Cliff’s family since 1827. In 1998, after his father’s passing, Cliff inherited the farm and soon after moved there permanently. It was then that he started to realize how special his farm and Rappahannock was and how important it was to protect them.

A series of hay bales in the sunsetIn 2003, Cliff put 604 acres of the farm into permanent easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and started working with USDA’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and other programs to transition to a new way of farming. With the help of these programs, Cliff has planted buffers along both sides of the Thornton River which runs through the farm on its way to the Rappahannock River and in areas where intermittent streams flow. He has also taken entire fields out of production to restore natural wetlands and forests. Now, where row crops, orchards, and dairy facilities previously dominated the farm, forests account for about 300 acres of the land and pasture and wild grasses account for the rest.

Cliff Miller is also a founding board member of the Rappahannock County Conservation Alliance which works to ensure that Rappahannock County remains a rural community by promoting farmland preservation and conservation easements.


Source: Bay Journal