Esslie-Frenia Law June 2023 Leaderboard

Columbia Land Conservancy protects 165 acres of land


GHENT–Though it’s been more than 30 years since she and her husband, Jay Iselin, purchased their property in Ghent, landowner Lea Iselin still sounds excited when she describes visiting the land for the first time. “It was winter, and it was slushy, cold, and muddy. I climbed up to the top of the hill, and from there, I saw the world,” she said in a press release.

Thanks to Ms. Iselin’s conservation vision and a partnership with the Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC), the view from the top of her hill will remain rural for generations to come. The Iselins originally placed 25 of the property’s acres into easement in 1986; this winter, they added the remaining 165 acres. Placing the property into easement will protect the region’s agricultural character, scenic beauty, and wildlife habitat. These 190 acres are part of a neighborhood conservation block in Ghent of about 1,200 acres of privately protected land.

The property has historically been used for farming, and Ms. Iselin has been working with Hawthorne Valley Farm to keep the land in active farm production for beef and dairy cattle. Just prior to closing on her easement with CLC, she sold an adjacent 50 acres to Hawthorne Valley Farm, reconnecting key parcels of an old dairy farm now owned and operated by HVA as a satellite farm on Schnackenberg Road.

CLC staff is excited about what this easement means for local conservation efforts. “Columbia County’s combination of working farms and rural beauty makes it a unique place,” Executive Director Peter Paden said in the release, “Working with landowners like Lea Iselin provides us with an opportunity to conserve these special qualities.”

CLC is a nonprofit organization and relies on the financial support of individuals to conserve the farmland, forests, wildlife habitat, and rural character of Columbia County. CLC has established 5,750 acres of public land, including the 10 Public Conservation Areas owned and managed by CLC. It has helped some 200 local families protect nearly 30,000 acres of land. CLC provides outdoor and educational activities to over 2,000 participants per year. CLC works to support and strengthen agriculture by matching landowners seeking farmers with farmers seeking land, by providing a corps of experienced farmers who mentor landowners and new farmers, and by helping facilitate the sale of important farmland to farmers or conservation minded farm buyers. CLC also assists the county and its towns in a variety of land use planning efforts.


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