December 1, 2023

Donation By The Conservation Fund Helps Protect Shenandoah National Park

GREENE COUNTY, Va. The Conservation Fund (TCF), a leading nonprofit in U.S. land and water protection, announced today its donation of 27 acres outside Stanardsville, Virginia to the National Park Service (NPS). The land is within the boundaries of Shenandoah National Park, and the donation will help protect park resources from incompatible commercial or residential development. 

TCF acquired the property in 2022 and held it until NPS was prepared to receive the donation. The donation was primarily made possible through a gift from Frances Kennedy in memory of her husband Roger Kennedy, who led NPS from 1993 to 1997. A plaque will be placed on the land noting the donation on behalf of Roger Kennedy. 

“Working with committed donors like Frances Kennedy — and landowners like Heidi Sage — is the key to protecting lands surrounding Shenandoah National Park,” said Heather Richards, mid-Atlantic regional director for TCF. “Without private, non-federal funding, the park is unable to acquire critical lands to protect its views and visitor experience, even from eager sellers like Mrs. Sage. The support from Mrs. Kennedy, given in memory of her husband, was essential.” 

Roger Kennedy, who served in the Navy during World War II, worked for a time as a civil trial lawyer and later as a news correspondent before becoming a director at the Smithsonian Institution. He was tapped to lead NPS in 1993. Kennedy’s obituary in The Washington Post noted that he “distinguished himself from many previous directors by wearing the NPS flat hat, gray shirt and green trousers in a show of solidarity with the rank and file.” 

“Adding this tract of land to Shenandoah National Park will ensure viewsheds and additional habitat is conserved for future generations,” said Patrick Kenney, Shenandoah National Park superintendent. “This gift coming in memory of Roger Kennedy, who served as the Director of the National Park Service, makes it extra special.” 

The 27 acres donated to NPS in Kennedy’s memory are prominently located at the Shenandoah National Park’s Swift Run Gap Entrance along Route 33. This forested parcel, which has good road access, was previously used as a private weekend campsite. Kennedy’s philanthropic gesture is particularly significant for Shenandoah National Park because the park is limited to the use of private funds and donations for land acquisition. 

The Shenandoah National Park Trust helped make this donation possible by contributing funds necessary to cover due diligence costs associated with the acquisition. 

“Land donation is a perpetual and permanent way to protect Shenandoah National Park,” said Jessica Cocciolone, the Trust’s executive director. “Land donation is one of the best ways to ensure continued trail access, provide habitat, prevent encroaching development, mitigate light pollution, and even help to combat climate change. And we were thrilled to be a partner in this effort.” 

About The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund protects the land that sustains us all. We are in the business of conservation, creating innovative solutions that drive nature-based action in all 50 states for climate protection, vibrant communities and sustainable economies. We apply effective strategies, efficient financing approaches, and enduring government, community and private partnerships to protect millions of acres of America’s natural land, cultural sites, recreation areas and working forests and farms. To learn more, visit

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