– Julie Kulak
When Julie Kulak first heard about the Delaware Highlands Conservancy almost a decade ago, she knew she wanted to take action to protect her cherished family land in Wayne County, Pennsylvania.
Originally owned by her grandparents, the 86-acres is part of what once was a working dairy farm and is now healthy forestland permanently protected with a conservation easement with the Conservancy.
Julie grew up on the land and fondly remembers a wonderful childhood taking walks through the woods with her mom, field guides in hand, identifying the many different plants and animals they saw. She remembers picking mushrooms with her dad and grandfather, learning to track animals, and playing in the small waterfall and the stream that runs through the property—a tributary of the Lackawaxen River that eventually flows into the Delaware.
Her love for the property only grew over the years, and though the family no longer lives there, she, her husband Kevin, and their two sons—currently ages 5 and 13—return for visits a few times each year. Julie relishes the opportunity to share the land with another generation of her family, and they spend a great deal of time exploring the woods and searching for Julie’s favorite feature—the salamanders and frogs that rely on the healthy habitat provided by the stream and forests of the property.
“The thought of anybody coming in and disrupting that kind of beauty or hurting the salamanders—it would break my heart,” Julie explains.
She has worked with a consulting forester to develop a forest management plan for the property, hoping to increase tree and plant species diversity and maintain and enhance the exceptional water quality for the amphibian population and the other wildlife found there.
Just as her own family has enjoyed the land for generations, Julie’s foresight will allow future generations of children and grandchildren to benefit from its protection.
“You have more to gain by protecting the land than by letting others exploit it,” Julie asserts. “My dad had some concerns about the easement at first, but after he realized that the property stays in our name and our family, that we’re just giving up development rights that we weren’t going to use anyway, then he understood and saw it as a wonderful opportunity.”
Written by Bethany Keene. Photos copyright David B. Soete.