Neighbors Protect Scenic By-Way
One neighbor, Alan Dolge, had experience with conservation easements and their role in protecting environmental quality. Others, members of the Lake Lattimore and Woodpecker Lake communities, valued their lands and vistas enough to also take action. The Partnership, represented by Alan Dolge and environmental attorney Jim Doyle, approached the Conservancy seeking an easement that would provide permanent protection for the land.
This property first came on the market in 2007, and the neighbors were immediately concerned about its future. The 56 acres is bisected by Silver Lake Road, a Pike County Scenic Byway, and is adjacent to an 85-acre property, the Lake Lattimore I conservation easement project, already protected by the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. The final conservation easement is actually two easements, Lake Lattimore II and Lake Lattimore III, with one to the north of Silver Lake Road and one to the south.
The 20-acre easement north of the main road is a “forever wild” easement that does not permit residential or commercial buildings. The easement covering the 36.5 acres south of Silver Lake Road (about half are wetlands) will permit a residence and ancillary structures that will permit limited agriculture use. Combined, the Lake Lattimore conservation easements protect 141 acres along Silver Lake Road.
The Conservancy working on behalf of the Partnership sought funding for incidental costs (including items like survey, title report, baseline data, and legal fees) from the Pike County Scenic Rural Character Preservation (SRCP) program through the donated easement program. The SRCP donated easement program encourages landowners to voluntarily protect their property with a conservation easement by covering many of the associated costs. This became the first project for this SRCP program.
It was a win-win proposition for all involved. The estate of the original owner received its price thus protecting the heirs’ interest. The six Partnership members will be able to recoup some of their costs when the protected parcels are sold. The Partnership and the Conservancy were able to protect the property for little cost thanks to the SRCP program. And best of all, the entire Pike County community will benefit by the conservation of the scenic beauty, protection of wildlife habitat and the water quality of Dingmans Creek and Nichecronk Brook. And that, after all, is the goal of the Pike County Scenic and Rural Character Preservation Program, the Delaware Highlands Conservancy and the Partnership.