Gifts to DRA Support Land and Easement Stewardship

Gifts to DRA Support Land and Easement Stewardship

Two exceptional gifts last year fundamentally strengthen the Damariscotta River Association’s ability to deliver on the promise of “conserving land in perpetuity.” A bequest from Susan Harvey and a gift from the Hart Family will both fund land and easement stewardship, building further DRA’s reserve of stewardship funds in preparation for national Land Trust Accreditation and in keeping with land trust best practices.

Susan Harvey Bequest

Lob Bk 05 Susan Harvey, Peter Knauss

Caption: Susan Harvey pictured with her good friend and former DRA Executive Director Peter Knauss at the DRA lobster bake in 2005.

A great friend and former board member of DRA, Susan Harvey passed away on September 1, 2010. She left to DRA a major bequest, representing a legacy that will extend her generous involvement well into the future. In seeking to describe Susan’s engaging persona and her commitment to conservation, we asked Susan’s friend and former DRA President Suzanne Johnson to share her recollections. Suzanne wrote . . .

“Ever the elegant bohemian, Susan could be found wearing beautiful but sensible shoes – ready for a hike, walk on the beach or trip around her garden to fill her bird feeders. Susan not only enjoyed being in and a part of nature but she was also passionate about protecting it – from the organic farms and foods she supported to the environmentally minded car she drove. Her kitchen countertop and desk bore testimony to Susan’s love and dedication to preserving natural resources as they were perpetually awash in publications, calendars and thank you notes from wildlife refuges, preserves, conservancies, land trusts and non-profit farms.

“As impassioned as she was about her natural surroundings she was equally concerned about her community and with people struggling to get past an unfortunate life circumstance or condition. Her door was always open and every visitor greeted with her effervescent, yet sly smile. She could refocus negative spirits by drawing attention to the splendors of the evening sky or a Heron passing by. The Damariscotta area gave her fertile ground for such appreciation, first in her home on Oyster Creek and later in her downtown Damariscotta River-front home.

“Susan’s generosity with the Damariscotta River Association was repeated in support she provide to the Maine Organic Farmer’s and Gardener’s Association and to CHIP, Inc.”


Hart Family Gift

Hart Family Land Gifts: Notes from the DRA Lands Files

Hart Easement:This easement, protecting about 100 acres of upper river shorefront property, was donated to DRA by the Harts in 1992. Though public access is not written into the easement, George and Jo have traditionally invited the public to walk and ski the fields and paths on their property and have kindly allowed DRA to establish a substantial part of its Salt Bay Heritage Trail there. The Glidden oyster shell midden was also originally included within this large and very significant easement.

Glidden Midden Gift: In 1997, nine acres of land, including most of this ancient oyster shell heap, was donated in fee to DRA by the Hart family. This parcel had previously been protected by the1992 Hart easement. The Harts’ gift also includes small Marsh Rosemary (aka Hay) Island next to the midden.

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Caption: George and Josephine Hart.

Walking on the exceptional Hart Estate and Heritage Trail, many DRA members and friends have enjoyed the generosity of the Hart Family. It may come as no surprise that in addition to donating land and easments to DRA the Harts also planned for a gift that would support long term care of DRA properties. George and Josephine Hart donated a conservation easement over much of their riverfront property to DRA in 1992 and several years later donated outright the portion of their land containing the Glidden Midden, said to be among the largest extant shell mounds in the northeast.

Prior to Mr. Hart’s passing, he and Mrs. Hart established a Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT) with DRA named as one of the charitable beneficiaries.

Termination of the CRUT this past summer resulted in a substantial gift to DRA which we have invested in a special stewardship fund. We are most grateful to the Harts for their generous foresight and longstanding commitment to DRA, expressed in so many ways.

William Hart, a son of George and Jo, kindly offered the following reflections on his father’s connection to conservation and to the Damariscotta River Association.

“My father never told us exactly why he wanted to put the land in trust with the DRA. He always loved our land, and from the very start of the association I believe he saw a way to keep it looking the same forever.

“He grew up on a beautiful farm in Ambler, Pennsylvania, which I remember visiting when I was very little. There was no river there but the farm land was beautiful, and I can remember skating on a lovely pond. Today, the lovely stone house is gone, the barns and pond are gone. In their place is a turnpike and row houses.

“I always thought that when my father would look out on the fields he loved and the trees he loved and the river he loved, he would say to himself that they would NEVER turn into what his boyhood farm had become. The DRA has assured that, and I know he is thrilled.”


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