The past year saw twelve properties in the Paddys Run project area protected by conservation easements. By purchasing easements through funds awarded by the Fernald Trustees and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), over 1,300 acres were permanently protected. This brings the total number of protected acres to 2,345. The vast majority of the acreage is comprised of working farms, many of which are farmed by two and three generations of family members. The funds help landowners purchase new equipment or acquire more land that in turn can be placed in easement. Other landowners who enjoy the diverse habitats on smaller properties have also become easement donors. One such landowner now serves on the Trust Board. For most properties, Forest Management Plans or Farm Plans have been prepared to guide the landowners on proper stewardship of their agricultural land and wooded habitats.
Since the beginning of the project in 2011, TVCT staff and Ohio EPA project managers have worked closely with eligible landowners and public officials. Open House meetings provided opportunities for the general public to learn about the project and the benefits of conservation easements.
Several productive meetings have been held with Ed Teets, Morgan Township Zoning Administrator and other Morgan Township officials. Diane Cox and Jon Nerenberg at Baden & Jones, LPA, have been invaluable in assembling and overseeing legal documents prior to and at closings. Staff at the Fernald Preserve has provided valuable expertise during initial property visits while assisting in the identification of flora and fauna. William Hammitt, an easement donor and professional forester and Pat Migliozzi, State Forester, have prepared forest plans required for properties with significant woods. Of special note was the fee simple purchase of a 125 acre property in January 2014. This diverse tract is now owned by the Trust with the goal of eventual transfer to an owner who will maintain the property as a passive park, preserve and field lab. Plans are underway to develop a timetable for restoration of natural habitats and removal non-native invasives.
Tom Schneider and Laura Hafer of the Ohio EPA continue to provide invaluable technical expertise and leadership to the project. The Trust wishes to acknowledge the support given to us by the Fernald Trustees and looks forward to another productive year in 2014.