We are dedicated to promoting the quality of life in Knox and surrounding counties by conserving woodlands, farmland, scenic open land, waterways, wildlife habitat, and other lands of natural and historic importance. To date, we have conserved over 5,007 acres (over seven and a half square miles) of identified important land in Knox, Morrow, Muskingum, and Richland counties, with 40 conservation easements. Those conserved properties are presented here.
2001. Thanks to the kind generosity and thoughtful leadership of Jim and Maureen Buchwald, the Owl Creek Conservancy was the grateful recipient of its first conservation easement on 28 acres in December of 2001. The wooded, north-sloping acreage abuts the Kokosing Gap Trail on the north for more than 1,400 feet.
2003. Jim and Maureen Buchwald graciously donated the Conservancy's second easement of approximately five acres. The protected land lies along the Kokosing River, north of the first easement they donated. The protected land, a riparian forest, lies along the Kokosing River, abutting the Kokosing Gap Trail on the south for approximately 1,480 feet north of the first easement the Buchwalds donated.
2004. Sixty acres on Grove Church Road were placed under a permanent land protection agreement thanks to the generosity of Robert E. Simpson. The acreage includes a small woodland and a wetland.
2005. Thirty-two acres of farm fields, grassland, stream and pond on Hopewell Road in Harrison Township in Knox County were donated by Jerry Simpson in Gambier.
2006. Ninety-two acres of working forests and open fields on Mengert Road in Monroe Township in southeastern Richland County near Malabar Farm were donated by David and Harriet Schwartz of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
2006. Bernice Delong protected her 130-acre sheep and cattle farm on Frazeysburg Road in Muskingum County with a donated conservation easement. When Ms. Delong died in 2007, the Protected Property passed to the Muskingum Valley Park District for development as an environmental educational facility.
2006. A 32-acre farm field bordering or enclosing the Kokosing State Scenic River on Green Valley Road in Morris Township, partially purchased with money from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund and donated in part by Alan and Traci Cassell of Cassell's Crossing, where Cassells have lived since 1835.
2006. A 22-acre farm field bordering the Kokosing State Scenic River, on Big Run Road in College Township, donated in part by the Philander Chase Conservancy in Gambier, and partially purchased with money from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund.
2007. The conservation easement was a partial purchase through grants from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, and a partial donation by Alan and Traci Cassell. The land is part of their 129-acre farm on Liberty Chapel Road, in Wayne Township. Granny Creek, a major tributary to the Kokosing State Scenic River, runs for 2,400 feet through the property, along spectacular 60-foot cliffs. The 59-acre easement covers a riparian area, an agricultural field and a wet woodland containing an unusually large vernal pool.
2007. Dalton and Norma Magers generously donated a conservation easement on their 98-acre farm, whose rolling fields were planted in warm season grasses under the federal Conservation Reserve Program. The farm lies east and west of Weaver Road in Miller Township, and includes a small wetland, supporting several awesome swamp oaks, one of which, at the time, was the second largest in the county at 17 1/2 feet in circumference and 5 1/2 feet in diameter. Dustin and Tara Durbin purchased the Protected Property in 2017.
2010. Nancy and Richard Montgomery have operated their 243.5-acre farm as a productive dairy or row-crop farm since 1967. They gifted a conservation easement on their farm on Simmons Church Road in Milford Township to the Conservancy to be sure their property remained forever a farm so that future generations might have the opportunities and gratifications they have enjoyed from working the land.
2011. We are immensely grateful to Mr. Galbraith for collaborating with the Conservancy in his visionary effort to conserve 1.3 miles of the most significant natural feature in Knox County, the Kokosing State Scenic River. Mr. Galbraith's 274-acre easement includes 186 acres of 100-year floodplain and 174 acres of tillable prime soils. Additionally, the acreage is almost entirely in the five-year time-of-travel zone within the aquifer recharge area for Mount Vernon's water system.
2011. In December of 2010, Richard and Nancy Montgomery telephoned and said, "We think we want to do another easement." In a meeting the following day, Nancy said, "We don't need to talk; we know what you can do for us - keep our land in farming." Conservation easements were then developed for their 90- and 138-acre farms.
2011. Jeff Montgomery also donated an easement on his 180-acre farm. Along with his parents' (Richard and Nancy Montgomery) three adjacent easements, Jeff's farm rounded out more than a square mile of protected prime soils in Milford Township. At an initial meeting, Jeff said, "We don't need to talk. I want what Mom and Dad have to protect my farm."
2011. Harold Rine donated the conservation easement on his 48-acre property on Upper Fredericktown Road to keep his land as it has been for the better part of two centuries.
2013. Janet Kohr's property includes nearly 170 acres of many of the most important aspects of the Knox County landscape: agricultural buildings, fields, woods, ponds and streams. The Nunda Road property has a rolling topography, with a mosaic of major landscape elements. Her fields are sustainably managed to produce hay, an agricultural habitat that can also be used by a variety of wildlife. Ms. Kohr entered into a conservation easement to entwine the memory of her husband, Robert Duncan McKenzie, permanently in the farm they knew and loved as Homewood Farm.
2013. Irene Price Healea donated two easements in Morris and Monroe Townships, totaling 309 acres, in part to entwine forever the memory of her husband, J. Warren Healea, in the land they loved and knew as Warwick Farms.
2013. Daniel W. Galbraith donated an easement on a 205-acre farm in Berlin Township in memory of his mother, Mary Lucille Cooper Galbraith. Dan also partially donated four other easements covering another 205 acres, all of which lie within the aquifer recharge area feeding the municipal water supply for Mount Vernon.
2014. Bruce and Kathy Lanker's 278-acre property in Wayne Township encloses more than a mile of the Kokosing State Scenic River and 3,750 feet of its tributary, Mile Creek and includes 200 acres of prime farmland. They amended the land-protecting conservation easement in 2018 to add 14 abutting acres on the west.
2015. John and Donna Horn's 388-acre farm in Harrison and Howard Townships includes land worked by John's family since the early 1920's. Strip farming controls erosion on the rolling terrain. The agricultural easement covering the Protected Property was funded by the generous donation of the landowners and the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
2016. The City of Mount Vernon's 53-acre Blackjack Wetland Preserve is the site of a spectacular assemblage of plants adapted to hydric soils and acres of high quality wetlands. The Clean Ohio Conservation Fund purchased the now Protected Property.
2016. Jay Wilson's 7.6-acre residential property includes seven acres of pristine woodland where the last timbering occurred nearly a century ago. Mr. Wilson's residential property is the first we covered with an easement, but the woodland made the convincing case for conservation.
2017. Our first conserved property in Morrow County, the McFarland property has been owned by the same family since about 1850. The 125-acre farm abuts and drains into the Clear Fork Reservoir, a major source of the municipal water supply for Mansfield. The farm includes 50 acres of woodland with two streams and 69 acres of tilled fields and a six-acre Building Area. Mr. McFarland donated the CE in memory of Georgia Z. and Robert O. McFarland.
2017. Longtime member of the Conservancy with an abiding interest in wetlands, Janet Kohr purchased the conserved 63-acre pristine wetland in Wayne Township. The property has a 56-acre riparian area, enclosing more than 2,100 feet of the West Branch of the Kokosing State Scenic River.
2017. Bruce Lanker's 313-acre property in the southwestern corner of Morris Township was the largest single block conserved at the time under one CE. It includes a 40-acre woodland, a seven-acre riparian area enclosing 1,226 feet of Granny Creek, a major tributary to the Kokosing State Scenic River, and 266 acres of productive soils, 96% of which are classed as "prime or locally important" by the National Resources Conservation Service of the USDA.
2017. Brad and Melinda Lanker conserved their 101-acre property occupying the northern and southern corners of the intersection of Bryant Road and Sparta Road in Wayne Township. The National Resources Conservation Service of the USDA classes all soils there as "prime or prime if drained." Importantly, Brad and Melinda extinguished nine approved, platted residential lots when they conserved their property, thus assuring that their productive farmland cannot succumb to a final crop of houses.
2017. Jeff and Patricia Wells purchased the 40-acre woodland in Bruce Lanker's 313-acre protected property. The existing permanent land-protecting CE continued unchanged when ownership changed. Separation of such a split as allowed in the CE was a first for the Conservancy, although the CEs for some other large protected properties also allow such splits.
2018. In 2016, Doug Givens and Ray Heithaus filed three applications under the Local Area Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP) of the Ohio Department of Agriculture to partially fund purchase of agricultural easements otherwise donated by Richard and Nancy Montgomery for the three farms. The three farms total 223 acres, and with the three previous farms they conserved, they have protected 697 acres of farm ground.
2019. Marion R. Brill donated an easement in memory of her mother, Patty Markee Brill, to protect her 34-acre property in Morgan Township. The CE was crafted to be compatible with Marion's desire to continue agriculture while providing habitat for amphibians, other wild animals, native trees and wild flowers.
2020. The Conservancy's largest easement, covering 526 acres, is owned by Bruce and Kathy Lanker, bringing their total conserved land to 1,140 acres. The four parcels include 460 acres of NRCS-designated prime or locally important tillable farmland, a Woodland Area, 1,030 feet of Granny Creek, a Riparian Area and NRCS-designated Wetlands. The southeastern 336 acres lay within the five-year time-of-travel zone within the greater aquifer recharge area for the municipal water system of the City of Mount Vernon.
2020. In 2017, Doug Givens and Ray Heithaus filed an application with the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Local Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP) to fund partial purchase of 125 acres of NRCS-designated prime or locally important tillable land, owned by Brian and Cindy Montgomery. The easement is near or abutting the six Protected Properties owned by Richard and Nancy Montgomery and one owned by Jeff Montgomery, bringing the total acreage conserved by the Montgomery family to 1,002 acres.
2020. In 2017, Doug Givens and Ray Heithaus filed an application with the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Local Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP) to fund partial purchase of an agricultural easement for a 143-acre farm owned by Barry Buxton. The property includes 121 acres of cropland, 17 acres of woodland and encloses about 2,690 feet of Armstrong Run flowing through a substantial riparian forest, draining into part of the greater aquifer recharge area for the water supply for the City of Mount Vernon.
2022. The Williams agricultural easement was purchased through the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program and covers 182.5 acres in Milford Township on the south-west side of the county. The topography of the farm is gently rolling with 131 acres dedicated to croplands in a corn/soybean rotation. There are 35 acres of pastured cattle and a small woodlot. The farm is comprised entirely of prime soils. The Williams Farm is the ninth property in Milford Township to be preserved by the Owl Creek Conservancy.