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February 14, 2013

Otsego Land Trust sets record in 2012

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — The Otsego Land Trust closed out 2012 with the most productive one-month period in its 24-year history, protecting 915-acres of farmland, forests, wetlands and historic structures in Otsego and Schoharie County, according to a media release from the organization. 

With three conservation easements closed during the last business days of the year, the land trust set a best year total of 1,950-acres protected, bringing its total portfolio to nearly 9,000 acres. 

Barbara McEwan Pope, Lewis Hall and David and Millie McCoy recognized the importance of land conservation in the Otsego region and took the necessary steps that guarantee its protection, the release stated. 

“We are grateful to them for their gifts to the entire community,” Otsego Land Trust Chairman of the Board Harry Levine said in the release.

From Schoharie County to the Butternut Valley, all three properties share many characteristics, including the protection of wetlands and watershed, forests, agricultural lands, historical features and scenic vistas.

From “Round Top” on Barbara McEwan Pope’s property, one can see over rolling hills and forests down to Oaks Creek Valley and Fly Creek Valley. Hall’s property, owned for more than 200 years by the Morris family, includes more than 4,500 feet of frontage along Butternut Creek, a tributary to the Unadilla River and an important habitat for freshwater clams. The McCoy Farm, in Schoharie County, consists of 434 acres, of which, more than 300 acres is managed forest and several acres of ecologically diverse wetlands.

While these properties are geographically diverse, together their protection makes an enormous impact on protecting natural and cultural resources in the region, according to the release. The property owned by David and Millie McCoy has miles of intact stone walls that outline old town roads and former property boundaries. 

“It is astounding to me to think of the work that initially went into clearing the forest to clear hundreds of acres of land for pasture, agriculture and roads. The land here is littered with shale and stone, so the work involved was extraordinary. The resulting walls still remain, many fully intact. Our wish is that they remain that way. The Land Trust will help us ensure that the essential character of this beautiful land and those walls remain intact for posterity,” the McCoys said in the release.

The historical attributes of Morris Manor were a driving force to protect this property and its historic context in the region, the release said. The property is part of a land grant obtained by the Morris family in 1769. It is still in the hands of descendants of General Jacob Morris, one of the sons of Lewis Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

In addition to the historic farm house on the McEwan Pope property, an original 3-holer (outhouse) still stands on her property.

Otsego Land Trust has protected nearly 9,000 acres in the Otsego region, which includes southern Herkimer, Schoharie and northern Delaware counties. It is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect lands and waters of significant scenic, historic and natural value, including working forests and farmland.

For more information on conservation easements and the Otsego Land Trust, visit www.otsegolandtrust.org or contact Connie Tedesco at 547-2236.