“They never tear down houses and put in orchards.”

Occasionally, my wife, Temma, and I are asked why we donated a conservation easement on our property to the Land Conservancy of Adams County (LCAC). Our home is surrounded by ten wooded acres and located in Highland Township. It had never occurred to us that we could preserve this land beyond our lifetimes. But one day, I saw a display by LCAC; as I read the booklet, Saving Family Lands, I learned more about the options available to preserve farms, orchards, woodlands, wetlands, etc.

I remembered reading about a meeting concerning Adams County’s agricultural land preservation program, during which a grower had said, “They never tear down houses and put in orchards.” That, to me, was a more relevant statement than the old, “They’re not making any more land.” Since our property was not an orchard or a farm, it was not eligible for the county program; but Saving Family Lands showed us how the LCAC could help us preserve even our 10 acres.

So, why did we do it? Was it the tax savings that resulted from donating an easement? Yes, we did receive a one-time federal tax deduction, but that was only a bonus. We would not have donated an easement if our goal were only financial. We donated an easement simply because we wanted to do our small part to maintain the rural character of Adams County, and because we believe that all of us have an obligation to see that the land we inhabit is not needlessly despoiled before our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to enjoy what we have enjoyed. There are many ways to build houses, stores, and so on, without using up land as we have been doing (especially here in Pennsylvania, where the amount of developed land is increasing at a rate more than ten times the rate of population growth).