Turner Brook Reserve: Forever Wild, As Ben Wechsler Wanted It


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“The Jewel of the Neversink,” is how Benjamin Wechsler referred to the 36-acre piece of paradise he wanted kept wild and protected from human impacts forever. Others who have experienced the special acreage would agree that there truly are such places that deserve to be preserved in their natural state.

The Jewel is part of a larger piece of land Ben owned in the Neversink River Gorge in Forestburgh, Sullivan County, New York.

Some of the greatest names in American fly fishing practiced their passion in the Neversink River, refined their technique and sometimes even wrote about their adventures in search of the perfect trout. One such publication is Justin Askin’s fine collection of essays, The Legendary Neversink: A Treasure of the Best Writing About One of America’s Great Trout Rivers.

Ben named the property “Turner Brook Reserve” after a stream that runs along the western section. Tumbling waterfalls and a pristine landscape are two of the features prized by Ben.

In the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, Ben found a like-minded partner to aid in his protection of the magnificent property and to uphold its exceptional conservation values like healthy forests, waters and wildlife habitats.

Turner BrookOn their first foray into the property, Ben took Conservancy staff, Melinda Meddaugh and Amanda Subjin, for an exhilarating off-road experience. “We drove over branches and across an ancient bridge that was barely wide enough for the Jeep,” remembers Amanda. After “billy-goating” down a steep embankment to the river, the pair seemed to earn Ben’s respect. He responded with a “real tour” of the place, giving the women a keen understanding of what it was that he loved about his land—its wild and remote qualities.

Ben passed away on July 21, 2011 at the age of 82, but bequeathed to the Conservancy a conservation easement on the 36-acre Jewel.

This Jewel, nestled along the gorge, sits between the Neversink River Unique Area (NRUA) and the remaining 1,600 acres of Ben’s estate.  Today the NRUA comprises 5,500 acres open to the public, some of which were part of the original Wechsler property.

Turner Brook Reserve is not open to the public.

The remaining property has been divided into 11 tracts and is being offered by the executors of his estate to conservation buyers who would ideally uphold Ben’s vision of environmental stewardship and love for the beauty, peace, and recreational opportunities available to those who enjoy fishing, bird watching, forest walks, hunting, cross country skiing or other outdoor activities.

Along with another property protected by the Conservancy known as Rose Valley Forest, and the NRUA, the Turner Brook Reserve helps to build a greenway that adds to the scenic views and supports the protection and environmental health of the greater region for human and wildlife populations.

Funding for the project came from the New York Environmental Protection Fund and the New York State Conservation Partnership Program administered by the Land Trust Alliance, in coordination with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Story by Sandy Long