Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 30

Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, said the
organization's staff and board are inspired by the
enduring generosity the Bontas demonstrated
by protecting their land. "This is among the
largest conservation easement donations in the
Conservancy's 86-year history," he said. "The
donation represents the inherent ethics the
Bontas have had for decades for respecting and
preserving nature and the natural world."

easement safeguards headwaters to the
Chesapeake Bay.
Under a section of the easement
entitled "Environmental Education and
Research," as a result of my books and
magazine articles, nearly 50 years of
nature journals, and the Bioplum records
of our flora and fauna that all five of us
have kept here since 1971, "this grant
seeks to carry on the Bonta Family's
legacy by permitting activities and uses
that provide for environmental education and environmental research on the
property."
There are further topics such as keeping dark skies at night, the aesthetic
and spiritual benefits of the property, as
well as ecosystem services, specifically,
"absorbing rainwater to protect erosion
and flooding downstream of the property
to sequester carbon in plants and soil."
Most important to us is the section
labeled "Biological Resources," which
includes portions of our forest that have
not been cut since 1815, meaning they
are mature, nearly old-growth forests that
provide habitat for native species that need
mature forests.
In summary, this grant seeks to permanently protect the ecological integrity of
the property, to maintain native biodiverMarcia Bonta with husband Bruce, left, and son
Dave. By donating a conservation easement on
their property, the family has ensured the land
always will benefit wildlife and the environment.
30

sity, to prevent habitat fragmentation, to
promote management and restoration that
foster natural ecosystem functions, and
to the fullest extent possible, to promote
rewilding, including the recovery or restoration of species and disturbance regimes
that were historically present.
We are hoping to inspire other rural
property owners to protect their land with
similar easements, especially since such
an easement does lower property taxes
by about half, in most cases, although it
also lowers the sale value of the property.
Still, in our case, as I told the WPC
on Earth Day 2019, when we signed the
easement at our home, the property has
taught us a lot about the Ridge and Valley
Province of central Pennsylvania, and
taught our sons about the natural world
and a spirit of caring for the Earth.
We want to make certain our property
will remain an example of a relatively
unspoiled natural environment, eventually
evolving into an old-growth forest that
will absorb as much carbon as possible,
making the air cleaner.



Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020

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Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Contents
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Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover4
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