The Adirondack Land Trust has announced that the F. M. Kirby Foundation has made a $2 million commitment to help fund perpetual care of working farms and forests under conservation easements. The foundation established the Fred M. and Walker D. Kirby Land Stewardship Endowment to provide and inspire greater support for stewardship in land conservation.
“Purchase of land, or protection by voluntary agreement with a private landowner, is just the beginning of conservation work,” president of the F. M. Kirby Foundation S. Dillard Kirby said in announcing the grant to the press.
The F. M. Kirby Foundation has been involved in protecting Adirondack land since 1974, according to Michael T. Carr, executive director of the Adirondack Land Trust. The new endowment honors Fred M. Kirby II, who passed away in 2011, and his wife, Walker who serves on the board of the F. M. Kirby Foundation.
The Adirondack Land Trust protects working farms and forests, unbroken shorelines, scenic vistas and other lands in the Adirondacks. The Kirby Endowment is expected to boost the land trust’s capacity to care for 50 conservation easements spread across a 9,000-square-mile region of Northern New York. According to the Land Trust These properties include 20 working farms that produce milk, apples, eggs, cattle and hay (7,363 acres); 3,327 acres of working forests; 1,274 acres of recreation lands; and 1,733 acres of forested shoreline properties.
A conservation easement is a voluntary land-preservation agreement between a landowner and a land trust that determines how a tract will be managed and how its conservation values will be maintained over time. It is a legally binding pact that runs with the land no matter how many times a property changes hands. In accepting a conservation easement, the Adirondack Land Trust assumes a responsibility to monitor the property and ensure that easement goals are met in perpetuity. Stewardship includes regular site visits, working with landowners to advance mutual objectives, keeping accurate records, and working to avoid violations of easement terms. The Adirondack Land Trust estimates that it costs about $5,500 per year per easement to meet these obligations.
According to officials at the organization, the grant brought ALT’s stewardship endowment balance to about $3 of the $6 million needed to generate enough interest to care for all current easement holdings. Donors are being sought to for the remainder.
The Adirondack Land Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization established in 1984, works in partnership with The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter. Together, they have protected more than 583,000 acres.