Ches Goodall, Acquisition of Conservation Easements Coordinator, Albemarle County
Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I was born in Durham, NC, but lived throughout the south as my father moved us from college town to college town (Durham > Knoxville > Galveston, TX > C’ville >Chapel Hill).
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
I went to St. Annes-Belfield (first class of boys to graduate from STAB) and my father went to UVA, so I had many connections and reasons to start my fledgling forestry consulting business here in 1985.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
I actually live in the Fan in Richmond and commute to C’ville.
Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?
My wife, Nancy, is a social worker, and my son, Ches (IV), is a senior at Collegiate School of Richmond. I also have two stepsons, one of whom is a musician and owns a pedicab service in Denver, while the other works for Freedom House, a non-profit in D.C. that addresses religious freedom issues in the world.
What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
I’m a double Dukie: BA (ecology) in 1979; Masters (forest ecology) in 1983.
What were you doing before you came to work for the County?
I was, and still am, a natural resource consultant. When not working for the County of Albemarle (I work 20 hours per week here), I run all over central Virginia managing forestland resources with my firm, Virginia Forestry and Wildlife Group.
Your job title is Acquisition of Conservation Easements Coordinator for the County – what, in your own words, would you say you do?
I manage the ACE or Acquisition of Conservation Easements program. This entails soliciting applications from landowners throughout the County who are interested in enrolling in the ACE program, and putting their land under easement. Once we receive the applications, I score and rank them according to a number of different evaluation criteria that relate to conservation value. With County funding and grants (which I must apply for), we purchase easements from our applicant pool, starting with the highest scorer and going down the list until we run out of either applicants or money. Thus far, we have protected 44 properties and over 7,500 acres in Albemarle County.
What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
I love meeting landowners in the County who are committed to conservation and leaving a lasting legacy for future generations. I also love my co-workers in the Community Development Department who strive to make the world we live in a better place. Many of us are positive people with similar world views.
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
For the average person in Albemarle County, the most visible and immediate impacts of the ACE Program are that by placing farm and forestland under a conservation easement, we are forever protecting scenic resources and open space so that farm you drive by on your daily commute will always be a farm, and all the benefits accrued from preserving it will be protected (including clean water and mountaintop protection).
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the county?
I really can’t pick a single project or work experience. It is the cumulative experience of working on so many great projects with so many outstanding landowners.
What is a little-known fact about you?
My family has a farm in the Allegheny Mountains of Highland County that I’ve been going to since childhood. We have no electricity or phones, but otherwise the house is perfectly modern: gravity-fed water from a springhouse, propane gas for the stove and hot water heater, and kerosene lamps for lighting. Every night, we cook over an open fire. When relaxing during the day, we often sit on our front porch gazing over the spring-fed pond and towering spruce trees that surround us, totally immersed in nature.
What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?
Since I am basically a nature boy, I love to explore the outdoors while avoiding roads and trails whenever possible. I also enjoy biking around Richmond for exercise, reading, and seeing as much of the world as I can.