Dutchess Land Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the rural character and open lands of Dutchess County, New York. Dutchess Land Conservancy works to protect open spaces, forests, water, and wildlife habitats by obtaining and monitoring private property easements through donations or purchases. It also educates the public on current conservation efforts that “encourage environmentally sound planning.”


Image courtesy of Axel-D on Flickr

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” That seems particularly appropriate for the Dutchess Land Conservancy, which protects land not through ownership but through easement (which grants property rights to those other than the land owners).

Through the years, like minded individuals have used their land ownership for a good cause; they’ve granted easement and even become stewards that serve as caregivers for the land. Those like Jerry and Esther Ottaway, Tom Uger, and Thomas “Doc” Sanford, thousands of acres have been protected over the years.

Jerry and Esther Ottoway gave easement rights for their 50-acre goat farm in Clinton, Pleasant Valley, in 2006. They also serve as stewards for the land, caring for the woodlands, open fields, wetlands, and ponds according to DLC guidelines.

Tom Uger donated a conservation easement on his 125 acres on Duell Road in Stanford. The land includes a circumnatural bog lake, a rare habitat that is home to a number of rare plants and animals, including the northern cricket frog, Blanding’s turtle, ribbon snake, blue-spotted salamander, river otter, and marsh wren.

Thomas “Doc” Sanford had his 304-acre farm on Route 216 and Frog Hollow Road in Beekman permanently protected by selling his development rights. In doing so, he protected that land from real estate developments while at the same time promoting conservation.

Through the foresight of generous individuals like these that are concerned with land conservation, the Conservancy has managed to save thousands of acres of farmland, woodland, wetland, and more from becoming subdivisions and commercial developments. In doing so, the rural character of Dutchess County can be preserved.