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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

By Sandy Long
May 1, 2013

BUSHVILLE, NY — Delaware Highlands Conservancy marked a milestone recently, having protected more than 14,000 acres of land since it was established. Here are the stories of two recent projects.

Mongaup River Forest

One of the things Susanne Hand will remember most about her father, Nathan Hand, is the family cabin and bungalow colony he built by hand on their property in Bushville. It was one of two prime Sullivan County properties inherited from her father and donated outright to the Delaware Highlands Conservancy in 2012 by Susanne and her sons, Rafe and Alex.

“I still marvel at how handy he was,” says Susanne in reflecting on her father, who died in late 2012 at the age of 103. “He loved the country and was a great outdoorsman.” A respected lawyer, Nathan moved to the Catskills in the late 1940s, married Frances Rosen in 1949 and built a small cabin and nine bungalows, opening “Hands’ Bungalows: For Happy Summers and Lifelong Friendships” in Bushville.

The couple ran the bungalow colony from 1950 to ‘57. Born in 1950, Susanne remembers summer days at the colony as pleasant, simple times with lots of children around. After careful consideration of options for the future of the family land, Susanne contacted a local land trust advisor in New Jersey to discuss donating the properties. She was directed to Delaware Highlands Conservancy and the rest is history.

“We were glad to hear about Delaware Highlands Conservancy, and pleased to know that good conservation work is happening in that part of the world,” said Susanne.

After completing a conservation easement, the conservancy will resell both properties and use the funds to support the organization’s conservation work. Located on the Mongaup River in the Town of Thompson, next to Catskill Regional Medical Center, the properties provide scenic views from the highway and substantial wildlife habitat.

Mitchell Pond Brook

When conservancy founder Barbara Yeaman began talking about establishing a land trust in the Upper Delaware region 18 years ago, one of the first people to come knocking was Tom Raleigh. Nearly two decades later, Tom’s beloved land i n Cochecton, NY, Mitchell Pond Brook, has been protected wit h a conservation easement and purchased by Helen Beichel, who likewise has fallen for the beautiful waterway that meanders along the 23-acre property near the Delaware River.