Pennsylvania Land Trust Association member, Merrill Linn Land and Waterways Conservancy, successfully protected Meadow Lane Farm in Snyder County, preserving the farm forever. Here’s their story in their own words.
In 2018, representatives of the Merrill Linn Land and Waterways Conservancy in Lewisburg were invited by a landowner to have a look at her property for easement consideration. At the conclusion of that visit, this owner introduced our representatives to a farm property owned by a dear, elderly, widowed friend who she knew wanted so much to protect her property.
Our representatives were quite taken by the beauty and diversity of the property; however, they judged the woman, due to her age and health, unlikely to be able to manage working through the complexities of easement development. With no immediate family and her only relatives living far away, the owner did not know how to assure in her estate planning that her beloved family farm would be protected according to her wishes.
In the summer of 2019, the Linn Conservancy was contacted by a nephew (a Chicago resident) of the owner, who on behalf of his aunt, was seeking ways, now with power of attorney, to fulfill his aunt’s wishes for the farm. While we were delighted to be contacted about the property, we suggested that he also look into the county’s agricultural land preservation program as another possible avenue for protection. In doing so, he learned that sites under agricultural preservation cannot be restricted from having industrial size operations such as chicken or hog farms. He knew that allowance for such structures on the property would not please his aunt. Turning then to the Linn Conservancy, easement negotiations to protect and conserve this beautiful site forever began in earnest. A larger representation of the Conservancy visited the 56-acre property with the nephew; all were immediately struck by its qualities. After much back and forth, a conservation easement on Meadow Lane Farm in Snyder County near Richfield, PA, was completed in late December 2019.
While Richfield expands and nearby properties have been developed, this easement guarantees the preservation of open space, wetlands, ponds, riparian buffer and prime farmland in the vicinity. The majority of Meadow Lane Farm contains soils of the highest quality that will be preserved for agriculture. As a bonus, the eastern and southern peripheries of the property consist of wetlands that have historically contained vegetation of special concern.
Termed “Richfield Marsh” by the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, this marsh is said to be of “notable significance” due to the record of a Pennsylvania endangered plant, hard-stemmed bulrush, that was recorded at the site in recent years. The Natural Heritage Inventory reports that the shrubs—brookside alder, poison sumac, and Atlantic ninebark—dominate the site. Poison sumac, rare for the area, was discovered on a recent visit. The property’s water resources include Mahantango Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River. The Mahantango passes through the property for nearly half a mile as it flows just south of the well-preserved farmhouse.
Thanks to a friend, the devotion and cooperation of the owner’s nephew, now the trustee of the estate, the Linn Conservancy was able to craft a conservation agreement that will preserve valuable habitats and a scenic, rural component of the region. The owner’s wishes will be honored and a unique landscape will be protected forever.