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Easement completed in Amsterdam

December 28, 2013
The Leader Herald

AMSTERDAM -?The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy in Delmar has completed its first conservation easement in Montgomery County - the 118-acre Strawberry Fields Farm and Nature Preserve on Cranes Hollow Road in the town of Amsterdam.

The property is owned by Jeff Leon and has been in his family since 1968.

The land includes open and successional fields and meadows, woods, ponds, and streams, including more than 500 feet of the Evas's Kill, a Mohawk River tributary, and views over the Mohawk Valley, a news release said.

"The easement means that roughly a third of the land will always be conserved for nature, and over half could be farmed again, but for now is also devoted to nature," Leon said in the news release. "All of it is managed to maximize biodiversity and sustainability, given the habitats that exist."

More than 300 plant species and more than 100 species of birds have been identified on the property. There is also a sink hole and limestone pavements, the news release said.

Mark King, executive director of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, said in the news release, "In recent years, we have protected four other properties totaling over 300 acres within four miles of this easement, particularly in the area of Wolf Hollow, which is a strategic priority area for us. Strawberry Fields is just west of Wolf Hollow. We are grateful for the donation."

The easement also means that further development of the property will be limited. At most, there could be four more houses, mostly in a 14-acre designated area around the current residence, which could not be subdivided. Most of the land never will be further fragmented, according to the news release.

"I have made this donation with future generations in mind: my own family and the community at large, including all the creatures and critters that have always lived here. Overdeveloping this place would be bad for everyone and everything," Leon said in the news release.

The easement will protect the trees that sequester carbon. The house is powered by renewal photovoltaic electricity and heated geothermally. Wherever possible, renewable electricity is used instead of fossil fuel, the news release said.

"My easement is the culmination of 10 years' personal quest. Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy has successfully moved from an all-volunteer organization to a professionally staffed one, both accelerating the pace of conservation and improving the quality of conservation. I am confident that the organization will be able to protect my land far into the future, way beyond my own life and capacity to do so," Leon said in the news release.

Now in its 21st year, Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the natural, scenic, agricultural and cultural landscapes of the Mohawk and Hudson valley region, the news release said.

For more information about the conservancy and property, call 436-6346.



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