David Litke often appreciates beautiful land from the sky, as he flies his helicopter over the area’s rolling fields of farmland including his own 55 acres in Bellefonte that he leases to a neighboring farmer and has decided to preserve.
Litke, 75, is donating a conservation easement on the land to the Centre County Farmland Trust. The easement will stay with the land, guaranteeing that the land will remain open and undeveloped in perpetuity. This kind of easement reduces the commercial sales value of the land and represents a landowner’s valuable donation to the public (through the Trust). ClearWater Conservancy helped facilitate the completion of the conservation easement process on behalf of Centre County Farmland Trust.
The property off Blanchard Street is on track to become the 17th property preserved through a donated farmland conservation easement with the Trust. The Trust pays the costs of securing the easement, and then will hold, steward and enforce the easement into the future.
“You don’t get it any better than this,” said Litke, standing among his fields on a sunny May afternoon with views of mountain ridges, a water tower and nearby rooftops. “You’re out in the country and you’re a mile from the grocery store.” He is concerned about farmers having access to land suitable for farming and wants to see his fields continued to be farmed, rather than be developed into houses or apartment buildings. Housing developments border his land to the Northwest and South. Farm fields border Litke’s land to the Northeast and East. Litke is the owner of the Polarblast sand-blasting company, which does industrial cleaning of surfaces like concrete walls and farm silos. He grew up in State College and has lived at the property for 54 years. His adjoining home and house-lot are not included in the conservation easement. Litke served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam as an air reserve medic. He built his own helicopter from a kit and obtained his pilot’s license. Flying, he says, has given him a unique perspective to see both beautiful farmland and pockets of housing in the Centre County area. Privacy and securing a buffer from homes are also reasons Litke has decided to preserve the land. He loves animals and enjoys watching the deer and an occasional visiting black bear on the land.
“This is a wonderful piece of land, and we are proud to facilitate this important conservation easement,” said Dan Guss, president of the Farmland Trust. “People living in this densely developed area will be able to forever enjoy having beautiful, open land nearby. The land will also continue to be available as an invaluable resource for agricultural production.”
The Farmland Trust works with landowners to secure agricultural conservation easements. Easements can be tailored to the unique characteristics and desires of each landowner and farm family. The Trust holds agricultural conservation easements on 17 preserved farms and 1,483 acres now that Litke’s gift of land is complete.
This post adapted from materials released by both Centre County Farmland Trust and ClearWater Conservancy.