While people donate conservation easements for many reasons, The Nature Conservancy’s Delaware chapter entered into one of these agreements under special circumstances — to fulfill a promise one man made to his grandfather. It was a promise to safeguard property owned by his family for several generations.
“When my grandfather bequeathed this land to me, he requested that it remain in the family for sentimental reasons,” shares John Goody, a retired Marine Corps officer and environmental consultant residing in Kaneohe, Hawaii. “Even though we no longer live on the east coast, the value of this land to our family and to Delaware’s natural heritage far outweighs any profit we would gain.”
The Goody family’s 149-acre property, Burton Farm — located in rapidly developing Sussex County — contains thick stands of poplar, oak, beech, hickory and other trees characteristic of a well-established coastal hardwood forest. Situated along a portion of Beaverdam Creek, the forest moderates climate and controls erosion entering the creek, resulting in cool, clean waters.
“Protecting such a large forested tract represents an important piece of the conservation puzzle,” shares Andrew Manus, assistant state director. “Since the forest serves as a filter for Beaverdam Creek — a tributary of the Broadkill River — the exceptional water quality benefits additional locations downstream, including the Great Marsh and ultimately the Delaware Bay, two of the Conservancy’s conservation priorities.”
Burton Farm also provides key habitat for a variety of wildlife. The forest canopy provides food and shelter for migratory songbirds and raptors that travel up the Atlantic coast each year. A healthy understory of blueberry, holly, sassafras, and other bushes and shrubs nourish ground dwelling animals including deer, turkey and a variety of insects. A portion of the property is also leased to harvest soy and corn by a neighboring family.
“We’re grateful that Mr. Goody’s grandfather had such an appreciation for this landscape,” adds Manus. “We look forward to working with the family to protect their property through implementing provisions agreed to in the conservation easement.”