Photo: FLLT

Third Easement Donation Ensures Character of Mark Twain’s Summer Home

The Land Trust has accepted the donation of a conservation easement in the town of Elmira, Chemung County from Katherine and Thomas Roehlke.  The easement protects 20 acres and completes a conservation project envisioned by George Howell, Katherine’s late father and leader in the Elmira community

The Roehlke’s is the third conservation easement donated to protect lands surrounding Quarry Farm from encroaching development. Located on a scenic hilltop just north of downtown Elmira, Quarry Farm served as writing retreat for Samuel Clemens, the author well-known as Mark Twain. Their donation brings the total acreage of conserved land around Quarry Farm to more than 235 acres.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Howell and Roehlke families, the landscape surrounding Quarry Farm will remain as Mark Twain knew it,” says Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “Completion of these easements also helps maintain water quality while protecting a scenic wooded hillside that is visible from downtown Elmira and Interstate 86.  This is a tremendous gift to the community.”

This project is part of an ongoing effort by the Land Trust to conserve lands in the vicinity of the Chemung River and its valley. The conservation effort is supported, in part, through a grant from the United States Forest Service Private Forest Stewardship Initiative. The Roehlke’s easement donation represents the fifth conservation easement in Chemung County, which is also home to two of the Land Trust’s public conservation areas—Plymouth Woods and Steege Hill Nature Preserves.

Conservation easements are legal agreements that limit future development while allowing land to remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls.  Conservation easements typically limit subdivision and development while allowing for traditional uses such as agriculture and forestry.  Landowners who donate conservation easements may be eligible for both state and federal tax benefits, including New York’s Conservation Easement Property Tax Credit—an annual reimbursement of 25% of property taxes paid on land for which an easement has been donated.