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October 20, 2014
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Delaware Highlands Conservancy highlights two projects

The 31 acres of Mongaup River Forest, donated by the Hand Family Trust, help sustain scenic views in Sullivan County, filter groundwater and protect the health of the Mongaup River.
Contributed photos


Tom had acquired the land in 1965 and lived there in a small cottage, enjoying the forest and the splashing music of the small creek that crosses in front of the cottage. He passed away in 2009 and never got to see his land protected, but laid the groundwork in his will. “Tom left the conservancy a generous bequest and left the land to his niece, Mimi Raleigh,” explains Barbara. “Although the easement didn’t come together during his lifetime, Tom talked with us for years and shared that desire with Mimi,” who visited Tom and his woods often.

Mimi’s love for the place grew over the years. “Ever since I was a child, I hoped one day the property would come to me,” she says. When that happened, Mimi thought long and hard about the future of the land.

After careful consideration, she decided to fulfill more than his wishes by donating the property outright to the conservancy, which protected it first with a conservation easement before seeking a conservation-minded buyer.

Motivated to begin searching for an escape from the noise pollution of her New York City residence, Helen Beichel came across the property online and made plans to visit. She connected with Yeaman and camped at her property along the Delaware River before walking the Sullivan County land that would become hers in December 2012.

Right away, she began to connect with the place. “I really liked the way the cottage was tucked in; the creek was beautiful and there were small red salamanders everywhere,” she says. “Later, I learned that the red-spotted newt is common, but is also a good indicator of healthy habitat.”

Because the cottage has become structurally unsound, Helen is planning to replace it with “as passive a house as possible,” with features such as passive solar and possibly straw bale construction.