Place in the Country

Our journey to set up a land easement began in 1976 when we purchased a 45-acre property. The dream of having a “place in the country” had arrived. We liked it so much that a purchase of 113 acres was made in l982 about a mile away. In 1983 we moved into the home on 113 acres where we later built a new home and tore the old one down. A chance to purchase a twenty-acre property adjacent to our residence in 1996 seemed like the right thing to do as we contemplated an easement.

This land has given our family many years of enjoyment...hiking, fishing, hunting, canoeing, and just soaking up nature on the properties and the surrounding pristine area. All three properties border the beautiful stream of Pennscreek and surrounding mountains. This inspired us to begin thinking about never developing our land and protecting the natural quality of the stream area and the wildlife.

After acquiring our properties, we were pleased to learn we could also protect a variety of flora and fauna through the easement. Our land provides a good habitat for turkeys, great blue herons, osprey, bluebirds, cedar waxwings, tree swallows, kestrels, great horned owls, red tailed hawks, screech owls, wood ducks, mallards, red wing blackbirds, and pileated woodpeckers. We have also found mink, deer, bear, otters, a variety of squirrels, gray and red foxes, weasels, and beavers.

We have identified several varieties of wildflowers such as bluets, trout lilies, Virginia blue bells, spring beauties, butterfly weed, wild asters, columbine, wild sunflowers, hepatica, cardinal flowers, jack-in-the-pulpit, and joe-pye-weed.

As we began to see changes around us, we became concerned that our “place in the country” was being invaded. Developments, homes and trailers were beginning to pop up around us—people, pollution. The need for an easement grew even stronger in order to maintain what we could of our own properties.

We have been encouraged by friends and acquaintances and also our local land conservancy over the years. As we gathered more information and learned more, a decision was made by my husband and me to pursue the easement while we were still living. After contacting the conservancy we were given the direction we needed, and we began to take the necessary steps. A friend of ours did a wonderful job on the baseline documentation. We contacted an appraiser, forester, attorney and accountant with easement experience. We chose to have envelopes surveyed on each property around each dwelling. This would allow for changes within the envelope like a swimming pool or improvements to the house, etc. Special consideration was given to maintain the natural ecology along the stream and woodland area.

We have completed two out of the three easements so far. To maximize the tax benefit allowed, we chose to postpone the last one for a few years. Having most of the work done, completion of the last easement should only require an appraisal and the paper work. It took about a year from the time we started to get everything accomplished. We were very fortunate and privileged to work with so many helpful and knowledgeable people.

 

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by Faye & Carl Oberheim

 

Merrill W. Linn Land & Waterways Conservancy

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