Productive and scenic farmland protected in Ancram

Contributed photoEast Heartland Farm in Ancram

ANCRAM — Ensuring that their East Heartland Farm will always be available to support the Town of Ancram’s agricultural economy and sustain its natural beauty, generous landowners Frank and Katherine Martucci have donated a conservation easement on the 171-acre property to Dutchess Land Conservancy and Scenic Hudson. Dutchess Land Conservancy will hold and maintain the easement, which safeguards the productive and scenic land from any future development.

Currently, the land is leased to a local grain farmer who grows hay, corn and soybeans.

East Heartland Farm was a priority of Scenic Hudson’s Foodshed Conservation Plan, a data-driven blueprint for ramping up collaborative farmland-protection efforts to create a secure source of fresh, local food for the Hudson Valley and New York City. It is centrally located within an assemblage of agricultural land spanning more than 3,300 acres in Dutchess and Columbia counties that Scenic Hudson, Dutchess Land Conservancy and Columbia Land Conservancy are working to conserve.

The property also is nearby to approximately 2,000 acres of protected lands in Ancram that include other protected farmland, the Drowned Lands Swamp Conservation Area, Taconic State Park and the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.

In addition to its agricultural importance, the land provides irreplaceable wildlife habitat. It lies within the Harlem Valley Significant Biodiversity Area identified by the state’s Hudson River Estuary Program, the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell University and the New York State Natural Heritage Program.

In 2010 and 2011, the Martuccis donated conservation easements on another 372 acres of East Heartland Farm to Dutchess Land Conservancy.

Mr. Martucci serves on both Dutchess Land Conservancy’s Advisory Council and Scenic Hudson’s President’s Council of Advisors.

Dutchess Land Conservancy President Becky Thornton said, “Frank and Katherine Martucci are selfless people who so generously give of themselves in so many ways. I always picture how Frank’s eyes light up each time he talks about his land. You can really tell how much he loves it, and protecting it seemed to be a natural decision for the Martucci family. His and Katherine’s strong commitment to ensuring the forever protection of not only their own land, but important areas within the surrounding community and broader Hudson Valley truly comes from deep within their hearts. They have played a key role in the preservation of critical land in partnership with the DLC and Scenic Hudson, as well as by teaming up with other area landowners. We are extraordinarily grateful to Frank and Katherine for setting such a wonderful example of true and extraordinary conservation leadership.”

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “We are deeply grateful to Frank and Katherine Martucci for this generous gift that will ensure the preservation of their farm for generations. The conservation of this farm builds upon Frank’s longtime and visionary commitment to protecting the ethereal beauty of the Hudson Valley landscape. He has been both a steward of his land and a leader in protecting the resources of the Hudson Valley for decades. I have cherished his past role as Scenic Hudson Board member and vice chairman, and the invaluable counsel and support he provides as a member of my President’s Council of Advisors. He and Katherine played a vital role in halting construction of the coal-burning St. Lawrence Cement plant in Hudson. We’re so grateful that they have so generously ensured that their farm will always support local agriculture, provide invaluable wildlife habitat and help to sustain Ancram’s rural charm.”

Frank Martucci said, “In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘the landscape is a missionary.’ Katherine and I are delighted that our farmland will continue sharing its beauty and productivity with people for generations, and we’re grateful to Dutchess Land Conservancy and Scenic Hudson for helping us ensure its permanent protection.”

The Martuccis have partnered in a visionary project to support Columbia County’s farm community. They donated land jointly owned with neighbor Dan Slott to establish Ancram Rural Build, a program intended to provide affordable housing for families whose occupations support the county’s agricultural economy. Habitat for Humanity has constructed two homes on the land. Designed by BarlisWedlick Architects, the houses use 90% less energy for heating and cooling than a conventional home, reducing operating and maintenance costs for the homeowners.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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