When sisters Susan Yingling and Sally Helm inherited more than 100 acres of woodland in Hamiltonban Township, they knew the property had been in the family for many past generations, and they wanted to preserve its wildness for future generations. “It’s always been mountain land,” Yingling said. “We’ve never built on it or planned to build on it.”
While Yingling and her sister had no plans to develop the land, which borders the Michaux State Forest, they wanted to make sure it would remain wild for future generations, even if it should pass out of their hands. Yingling had heard about the benefits of land preservation and arranging conservation easements to protect land from development—but she thought it applied only to farmland. “I didn’t realize you could also preserve woodland,” she said. But she called the Land Conservancy of Adams County (LCAC) anyway, and learned that woodland is equally valuable for preservation—and once she said she was interested, the LCAC took care of all the details.
In late December the LCAC completed a conservation easement with Yingling and Helm to preserve their family’s land as undeveloped woodland in perpetuity. The easement purchase was made possible by a grant from American Rivers, a national conservation organization that works to protect, restore, and revitalize our rivers. The Yingling/Helm property contains headwaters of Middle Creek, which ultimately drains into the Monocacy and Potomac rivers.
Funds for the American Rivers grant were provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, which provided $1.8 million for the Potomac Highlands Implementation Grant. American Rivers administers the sub grants.
Yingling was surprised at how easy the conservation process was. “I thought there would be many things that I had to do, but actually the Land Conservancy took it all on,” she said. “They did all the groundwork and made things very, very easy.”
Yingling added that she learned some things about her property during the process. The LCAC’s deed research uncovered the exact boundaries of the family land, which had long been forgotten. And Yingling learned that her ancestors had purchased the woodland as early as the 1890s
“It was an amazing process,” Yingling said. “I just said I’d like to conserve this land and put it in their ballpark, and they took care of the rest.”