Northern Virginia Conservation Trust

A nonprofit organization

31 donors

An NVCT Landowner Story

When NVCT Staff first met Dr. Lillian Ruckstuhl in 1999 she was already an accomplished woman. She received her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1958--at a time when few women were doctors--and she had developed a well-respected practice. Yet, Lily came to treasure her refuge from her busy professional life--the seven acres of woods and meadows she owned in Fairfax County where she lovingly cared for several generations of sheep, goats, horses, and dogs. She watched her beloved horse Piccolo graze in the open field behind her house. She even tended to the historic Lindsay Cemetery next door to her property, even though she never owned it.

But Lily's community was changing. Residential developments were sprouting up all around her little farm. And she grew increasingly concerned that her property would likewise be developed after her passing.

To make sure that her legacy survived her, Lily contacted the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust. Working closely with the Trust, she voluntarily gave up the development rights on her land and empowered the Trust to enforce those restrictions forever.

As part of that agreement, NVCT would tour the Ruckstuhl Farm at least once a year. Lily was a gracious hostess who loved to talk over tea and cookies about her hope that her land would one day be a public park. During these visits, Lily became more and more familiar with the Trust and its vision of saving nearby nature in Fairfax County. When she died in 2008, Lily provided in her will that NVCT would inherit all seven acres of the Ruckstuhl farm. She also bequeathed a small contribution to NVCT in order that NVCT would continue in her role as caretaker of the historic Lindsay Cemetery, where she too is buried.

After acquiring the land, NVCT determined that this area of Fairfax County was deficient in public parkland so close to DC. Accordingly, NVCT contacted the Fairfax County Park Authority and negotiated an agreement to sell the property to the Park Authority at a fraction of its value. In addition, the property will be conveyed subject to a conservation easement that will protect the natural features of the property that Lily loved so dearly. NVCT also agreed to seek grant monies to defray some of the Park Authority costs in purchasing the land.

Lily is dearly missed, but NVCT knows that there are other remarkable people just like her who want to save nearby nature in Northern Virginia. But they need the help and support of the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust to make their dreams a reality.


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Organization name

Northern Virginia Conservation Trust

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