Ward Burton might be best known for driving up to 200 miles per hour, but these days he spends time at a slower pace, caring for his land in Virginia. A former NASCAR star and the first Virginian to win the Daytona 500, Ward established the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation over two decades ago with a mission to give back to our natural resources.
The Foundation’s programs focus on four main causes: land management, the Army Compatible Use Buffer program (ACUB), American heroes, and the next generation. To achieve those goals, it cares for large parcels of land to help wildlife flourish, as well as to create a buffer zone to protect land around Virginia military bases. The Foundation says, “From proper forestry stewardship to building wetlands, we are constantly building diversity in habitat for all wildlife species so that these properties will always be a good model for conservation, both today and in the future.”
That’s why, when the Atlantic Coast Pipeline team approached Ward about routing the pipeline through part of this property, he understandably had concerns.
In a letter Ward wrote to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) during the decision period for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, he said: “I grew up on the land in Southside Virginia. From an early age, I learned to love the forests, streams, meadows and wildlife that make this part of the commonwealth so beautiful and valuable. My father, grandfather and many other hunters and outdoorsmen taught me that we must be good stewards of the land, conveying it to our children and grandchildren in the same – or better – condition as we found it.”
But Ward agreed to meet with the ACP team, and he learned about the various programs and initiatives the ACP will use to protect the environment along the route during construction and throughout operation. He came with an open mind and found that the ACP team was ready to listen to his concerns as well. They worked together to find a solution that benefited both sides.
In the same VOF letter, Ward wrote: “What I initially saw as a threat to Foundation property has turned, in my view, into a big opportunity. Working with Dominion [Energy], we have been able to develop a plan for the easements that will in the end enhance the parcels rather than diminishing their environmental value. Frankly, I’m excited about it. And with no hesitation, I recently signed the papers conveying the easements.”
The ACP team is excited as well, to work with Ward Burton to improve the environment along our route, through programs such as our Pollinator Habitat Initiative. Learn more about Ward and how he is working with the ACP: