An Amazing Feeling

After several years of receiving letters each week from developers wanting us to sell our family farm, we decided we needed to think seriously about protecting our land. It was surprisingly difficult for us to find information about our options - at least until we found our way to the Natural Lands Trust web site. Within a half-hour of contacting them, we received a response, and so began an exciting year that ended with our completed easement in hand.

We never realized quite how many decisions we'd have to make along the way - decisions that would affect the land not just for our lifetime, but for generations to come. Initially, we were concerned that we'd be stuck with a pre-made set of restrictions, but that was far from the case. We were able to customize the agreement to perfectly fit our needs and our hopes for the future of the land. Our farm has been cultivated for many generations, but it is hardly prime agricultural land. Therefore, we chose restrictions that will allow it to return to woodland and meadows.

On our daily walks, we enjoy watching the insects and animals, listening to the birds, and seeing the various wildflowers that appear throughout the year. Knowing that all of this natural beauty will always be safe from chainsaws and bulldozers is an amazing feeling! Our next step will be to create and implement a stewardship plan, to help us keep the woods and fields free of troublesome invasive plants, and maintain welcoming habitats for native plants and wildlife.

Besides making us feel great, protecting our land has provided an even more gratifying result - after hearing about our experience, several of our neighbors have expressed interest in protecting their land, too! One adjoining landowner has already completed the process, so we've started to create a sizeable area of preserved land in our township. We take every opportunity to spread the word about the benefits of conservation easements in hopes that more people will get involved. We say: Instead of spending so much energy fighting developments in the future, let’s get the land protected now!


by Joseph & Ethel Ondra

Natural Lands Trust

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