2017-08-12 / Front Page

‘Special place’ will stay that way


Matt Marusiak, land protection manager for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC), discusses conservation easements and other measures to protect natural areas during a meeting of the WPC Advisory Board last week at the Southwoods Farm Nature Preserve. In the foreground at right is Tom Saunders, the conservancy’s CEO and president, who took a personal interest in the successful donation of a conservation easement by the Green family. It’s the first such WPC partnership in Potter County. Matt Marusiak, land protection manager for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC), discusses conservation easements and other measures to protect natural areas during a meeting of the WPC Advisory Board last week at the Southwoods Farm Nature Preserve. In the foreground at right is Tom Saunders, the conservancy’s CEO and president, who took a personal interest in the successful donation of a conservation easement by the Green family. It’s the first such WPC partnership in Potter County. A 50-plus acre tract in Potter County’s Homer Township will forever be an oasis for wildlife habitat and environmental stewardship.

Last week, executives and volunteers from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) converged on the Southwoods Farm Nature Preserve to celebrate the donation of a conservation easement from the landowner, Marjorie F. Green.

“With this donation, Marjorie Green is ensuring that land use and development on the property will be limited to protect wildlife habitat, water quality and forests,” WPC said in a news release.

Green acquired the property with her late husband a half-century ago and has lived there since the early 1990s. Her sons, Steve and Danny, fully support the donation.

Steve has directed the detailed construction and furnishing of a finely detailed, locally crafted barn that’s envisioned to serve as a conference center and gathering place for visitors to the preserve. It already contains numerous artifacts and exhibits.

This is the first conservation easement in Potter County to be donated to the WPC.

The property is located in the Sinnemahoning Creek watershed and includes mostly forested slopes of hardwoods and hemlock, wetlands and high-quality streams with substantial beaver dams.

Heth Run flows into Southwoods Branch on the property, and both streams support naturally reproducing populations of brook trout. The tract is adjacent to the Susquehannock State Forest and not far from the Austin Dam Memorial Park.

Conservation easements are permanent deed-restriction agreements tailored to meet specific landowner needs and conservation goals. They limit certain types of development and help land stay natural in perpetuity, even if it is sold.

Recently, the federal government made enhanced income tax benefits for conservation easements a permanent part of the tax code. But the Green family elected not to accept any tax benefits for their donation, due to their strong ethic and belief in conservation and preserving wildlife habitat.

“Potter County is one of Pennsylvania’s special, really remarkable places,” said Tom Saunders, WPC president and CEO, who attended last week’s reception. “It is a rural and beautiful landscape of deep forests, mountain streams and winding roads. It’s a magnificent area for hiking, camping, hunting or fishing. We are glad that this property will remain in private ownership and be protected for generations to come.”

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