The Westchester Land Trust has accepted a conservation easement on Pound Ridge Land Conservancy’s Olesen Preserve, according to a statement released by the organization this week. The move helps ensure that the environmentally sensitive property will be preserved in perpetuity.
The 6-acre parcel, located at the intersection of Trinity Pass and Donbrook Road, was purchased by PRLC from the Olesen family in 2019. Conservation advocates say it serves as a critical connector between two other preserves — the 38-acre Halle Ravine Preserve and 32-acre Isaacson Preserve.
Given its strategic location, Olesen Preserve is considered key to establishing a contiguous 645-acre greenbelt of undeveloped land in Pound Ridge.
The preserve is home to a variety of forest, wetlands and watershed lands that provide natural wildlife habitat and filter drinking water to the surrounding community. The conservation easement under purview of WLT aims to further protect these vital resources.
“The Pound Ridge Land Conservancy couldn’t be more delighted that the Westchester Land Trust will hold a backup easement on the Olesen Preserve, continuing the relationship we have on so many of our preserves,” Mike Kagan, President of Pound Ridge Land Conservancy said in a press release. “The easement will help ensure that the property will be preserved forever.”
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently limits the uses of a property in order to protect the land’s important conservation values.
Under the easement agreement, the PRLC will continue to own and manage the land as a nature preserve, but it gives up the right to develop it.
As the holder of the conservation easement, WLT is responsible for monitoring the property at least annually to ensure that the terms of the easement are being upheld. This obligation is perpetual and provides an additional level of protection should the property’s intended use as a nature preserve ever be threatened.
“Westchester Land Trust has collaborated with Pound Ridge Land Conservancy for many years, and we are delighted to have joined with them to preserve the Olesen property and further conserve clean air, drinking water, and wildlife habitat in perpetuity,” Lori Ensinger, president of Westchester Land Trust, said in the announcement. “We truly value our partnership to accelerate the pace and quality of land protection in Pound Ridge.”
The Olesen Preserve sits within a network of nearly 800 acres of drinking watershed lands owned by Aquarion Water Company and more than 100 acres of preserves and parkland owned by the Town of Pound Ridge, creating a nearly 1,000-acre corridor of relatively undisturbed land.
This corridor is noted for its high level of native biodiversity. It holds the distinction as an Audubon Important Bird Area.
Last summer the PRLC also discovered an active beaver dam in the stream on the Olesen Preserve, which has since led to an increase in the population of new bird and waterfowl attracted to the wetland habitat.
At a time when many novice nature goers as well as seasoned hikers are turning to the outdoors due to the coronavirus crisis, the PRLC is looking to increase access to these protected properties and plans to allow for the creation of trail linkage between existing preserves.
“More people than ever before are turning to protected lands and trails to relax and restore and recreate,” WLT Vice President Kara Whelan wrote in an email to The Record-Review.
According to the WLT website, the organization has protected land in 28 communities and over 200 conservation easements throughout the county.