The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

December 24, 2013

New conservancy easement protects 43 acres in Union County

LEWISBURG — LEWISBURG — The Merrill W. Linn Land & Waterways Conservancy has announced a new conservation easement that will permanently protect 43 acres on the Shamokin Mountain Trail in Union Township, Union County.

Warren G. Abrahamson II, Christy Abrahamson, Wayne McDiffett and Ruth Burnham are owners of the properties located off Stein Lane, five miles south of Lewisburg.

Aligning with the conservancy’s recently introduced Linking Landscapes Initiative, which seeks to establish and maintain habitat connections to facilitate wildlife movement, migration and interbreeding, the property adjoins the 342-acre Pennsylvania State Game Lands No. 193 along its 0.36-mile-long southern boundary. Together, these properties protect more than 380 acres of diverse upland habitat.

The conservation easement will protect the property’s water, soil, forest, wildlife and scenic resources in perpetuity. The property, which straddles the ridge of Shamokin Mountain, holds valuable groundwater, which is slowly released to both the Buffalo and Dry valleys via Turtle Creek and Winfield Creek.

The owners intend to perpetuate and foster an old-growth forest community with associated wildlife species. Roughly 35 acres of the property is wooded by a canopy of white and chestnut oaks, red, black and scarlet oaks, pignut and mockernut hickories, red and sugar maples, beech, bigtooth aspen, sourgum, white pine, black cherry and other species.

The remaining eight-plus acres are maintained as a grassy meadow community by PPL Electric Utilities, which has an existing easement, as a corridor under an electricity transmission line. The corridor and the transition area between the corridor and the forest provide an edge habitat that attracts a number of native species that are less common in adjoining woodlands.

The easement protects scenic views of older-growth forest and the meadow corridor from Stein Lane, which has a more than 700-foot frontage. Birdwatchers, hikers, hunters and others can enjoy the Buffalo Valley panorama overlooking the property from the state game lands.

Warren Abrahamson and McDiffett have been involved in the conservancy’s land trust activities since 1990, when they were invited to share a seat on the organization’s board of directors. But in the late 1970s, when the two couples purchased their adjoining parcels, “We didn’t know about the land trust movement,” McDiffett said. “But we did not want to develop the land, so we put the properties into Clean and Green.”

Clean and Green is Pennsylvania’s preferential tax assessment program that bases property taxes on use values rather than fair market values to encourage protection of farmland, forestland and open spaces.

“Clean and Green provides local and state tax relief and some land protection,” Abrahamson said. “However, if we were to sell our properties, the new owner could develop the land if the back taxes and a penalty were paid. The Linn Conservancy conservation easement ensures that the land will be protected forever.”

With the addition of the Abrahamson-McDiffett-Burnham conservation easement, the Linn Conservancy protects 16 environmentally significant properties and nearly 1,200 acres in four counties. For information about the conservancy’s activities, go to www.linnconservancy.org or visit Merrill W. Linn Land & Waterways on Facebook.

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