Saving Diverse Natural Lands
Last year, support from our members and donors resulted in the preservation of 503 acres of natural lands in North Alabama.
A substantial portion of that total acreage came in the form of a significant land donation to close out 2018. In December, Belle Mina Farms donated 304 acres of their property to the Land Trust with the goal of ensuring its beauty and ecological value are protected from pressing development. Located just west of the new Mazda -Toyota Manufacturing plant site, the property includes 3 miles of the Limestone Creek corridor as well as over 100 acres of farmland. A key link in the Conservation Vision/Plan of the Land Trust, this acquisition conserves a vital riparian corridor, protecting water quality and safeguarding the ecosystem. Long term, this portion of Limestone Creek is also identified for a greenway in the City of Huntsville Greenway Master Plan.
The remaining 199 acres of land acquired in 2018 include:
An exciting and strategic acquisition of 52 acres on Green Mountain was finalized last year as part of our River to Gap initiative – a plan to create a recreation and wildlife corridor from the Tennesee River to Blevins Gap. When this property on the west side of the mountain along Green Mountain Road became available to purchase, the Land Trust had to act fast to raise funds needed. The City of Huntsville contributed half of the purchase price and the remaining total was contributed by individual donors who felt this land was critical to the future of Green Mountain. While ensuring that another pristine piece of the mountain remains undeveloped, this property is also an important part of the city’s greenway master plan. With a few more key pieces in place, we’ll be able to provide residents and wildlife a continuous trail corridor stretching from Blevins Gap all the way to Ditto Landing.
Just a little over 27 acres located near Bell Mountain Road were donated by George and Lonetta Dawson in Spring 2018. This upland hardwood tract adjoins an existing Land Trust property, bringing the total acres preserved on Bell Mountain to 78. Now protected, this oasis of green surrounded by neighborhoods and businesses will provide an important home for wildlife and potential for future recreation opportunities in south Huntsville.
Near the Madison/Jackson County line on the far southern end of Keel Mountain is a 40 acre property, recently donated by Bob and June Terry. This newly acquired tract is the third tract preserved on Keel Mountain by the Land Trust. Keel Mountain is another critical link in the Land Trust’s Conservation Vision Plan, being a rich and diverse ecosystem. One of the renowned features of Keel Mountain is its karst topography, which is on display on this preserved land.
Located northwest of Hampton Cove, a new 20 acre donation marks our first foothold on Drake Mountain. The property’s forest habitat supports a variety of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds. As the Land Trust continues to expand our footprint throughout the community, this is a strategic acquisition from which to build.
A little different from the other acquisitions, this 60 acre property, located approximately 2 miles west of Athens in Limestone County, was donated in the form of a conservation easement. This means that the land will remain with the current owner but use and future development will be restricted and monitored by the Land Trust. The property is a relatively flat, undulating tract historically utilized for agriculture and hunting. With the execution of the easement the conservation values of the land will be preserved forever.
More on Conservation Easements:
A conservation easement is a land conveyance from a private land owner to either a governmental entity or non-profit 501(c)3 Land Trust, which places restrictions on a property that has appropriate conservation values. The holder of the conservation easement (either the Land Trust or governmental entity) is responsible for monitoring the property in perpetuity to make sure the easement restrictions are not violated. The easement itself is negotiated between the parties to meet specific conservation goals and allow the land owner the continued to use of the property, so long as the uses don’t conflict with the conservation goals. A key benefit to a conservation easement is the land owner’s ability to take a federal tax deduction for the value of the donation. However, in order to take advantage of these tax benefits, the land owner must comply with the IRS Code requirements. Learn more about land donations here.
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