PERRYSBURG - A 120-acre Seneca County farm is among 1,753 acres added to land conservation holdings by Black Swamp Conservancy in 2011.
With the addition of 12 properties, the conservancy now protects 11,171 acres of farmland and natural areas from development - forever.
"We're very excited," said Sarah Brokamp, the conservancy's advancement coordinator. "This was one of our best years at the conservancy, a very productive year."
"We're glad we can be a resource for the generous landowners here in northwest Ohio who are interested in preserving their land for generations to come," said Director Kevin Joyce.
The farm north of Tiffin is a Century Farm owned by Tim and Phyllis Riley that has been in the Riley family since 1864. The farm features original buildings that date from the late 1800s, which the Rileys are restoring.
As wildlife enthusiasts, they have taken steps to improve natural habitat on their farm through best management practices such as filter strips and conservation tillage.
The Riley farm joins 16 other farms north of Tiffin covering 2,500 acres that have been placed in the agricultural conservation easement program in recent years, and another 900 acres is in the paperwork process.
"Seneca County is a focus area for our preservation efforts," stated Rob Krain, the conservancy's conservation director, in a news release. "This area features some of the finest soils in the region, and we are very pleased to work with so many local families who want to ensure their land is protected."
The largest addition last year was the 603-acre Mauch farm in Sandusky County.
Black Swamp Conservancy is a land trust dedicated to protecting agricultural land and natural areas, now and for future generations, through land conservation agreements. The goal is to preserve rural heritage, natural habitats and lakes and streams of northwest Ohio.
The 12-county service covers northwest Ohio. In addition to Seneca and Sandusky, land was added in Fulton, Hardin, Henry and Ottawa counties.
As a nonprofit organization, the conservancy preserves land mainly through perpetual land conservation agreements known as conservation or agricultural easements. Through such an agreement, the landowner gives up the right to develop the property such as by constructing buildings, putting in roads or driveways or subdividing the land to protect its conservation value, which includes its value as prime farmland or as habitat for native plants and animals.
Conservation agreements protect the land without any change in ownership. The conservancy does not take ownership of the land, but is responsible for monitoring the condition of the property to ensure terms of the agreement are being upheld.
"I think we are starting to get our name out there more and let the community know if they are looking to do this sort of thing, they have a partner out there to do it," Brokamp said. "We're really looking to let people know that we're here and that we're available to help them with this."
Brokamp invited anyone interested in donating a conservation or agricultural easement to call the office at (419) 872-5263. A representative will visit the property and begin the process after a decision is made.
"We get a lot of people that are interested in preserving the heritage of their land, a lot of farmers who would like to know their land will remain in agriculture in the future," Brokamp said. "It's just the satisfaction of knowing their heritage is being preserved forever."
For more information, visit www.blackswamp.org.