Press release authored by Dan Mangan and shared by Land Conservancy of Adams County on June 5, 2024. Photo courtesy of the Land Conservancy of Adams County. 

The Land Conservancy of Adams County (LCAC) has announced a conservation easement donated by Hugh and Nell Matthews on 37.7 acres of their property in Freedom Township southwest of Gettysburg.

Credit: Sarah Kipp, Land Conservancy of Adams County

According to LCAC, a conservation easement is a voluntary land protection agreement between a private landowner and a land trust such as the Land Conservancy. It permanently protects the unique resources and conservation values found on a property – such as its ecological, scenic, wildlife, or agricultural resources.

The Matthews’ recently built a home on the property they have owned for 27 years. Nell refers to her husband as a “tree hoarder” because of his decades-long work to restore natural habitat on the property. “At one time,” she said, “this parcel had been part of a larger farm. Like much of the land in this area, it had been nearly stripped of vegetation and was farmed edge to edge.”

She said that her husband has planted hundreds of trees on the property, particularly around a small creek on the north side of the property which flows into Marsh Creek. He also maintains another area as a meadow with nine acres of native warm-season grasses planted in 2017.

The LCAC easement donation isn’t the Matthews’ first conservation effort. They previously placed approximately 10 acres of land into the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program, and 17 years ago planted trees there. The Conservation Reserve Program’s long-term goal is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.

The Matthews concluded that “our main goals are preserving some native flora and fauna, combating invasives, planting wildflowers, improving the watershed, and enjoying the aesthetic value of a small portion of Adams County.”

The Land Conservancy of Adams County is a nonprofit, member-supported land trust accredited by the national Land Trust Alliance’s Land Trust Accreditation Commission. The organization’s mission is to preserve the rural lands and character of Adams County, Pennsylvania. For more information about the Land Conservancy of Adams County,

Media Contact: Sarah Kipp ([email protected])