KINSMAN, Ohio — A Trumbull County couple has permanently preserved nearly 3,100 acres of farmland and natural areas in what is believed to be the state’s largest-ever land conservation transaction.
Richard and Rhonda Thompson, of Kinsman, donated 23 conservation easements totaling 3,095 acres to the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy. A conservation easement is a legal document in which the donor voluntarily restricts future development on his or her land while retaining ownership.
More than two-thirds of the property preserved by the Thompsons — about 2,157 acres — is farmland, and the conservation easements protect more than 11 miles of stream frontage. The protected land is in Ashtabula and Trumbull counties in Ohio, as well as in Pennsylvania’s Mercer County.
It was the first out-of-state conservation easement recorded by the Land Conservancy, which sometimes does special projects outside its 14-county northern Ohio service region.
Scott Hill, the Land Conservancy’s eastern field director, said the Thompson properties contain 11.4 miles, or about 60,000 linear feet, of tributaries to the Shenango River. Most of the tributaries flow into Pymatuning Creek, a major branch of the Shenango River.
Hill said the project is important not only because of the vast amount of preserved acreage but also because of the protection afforded to river corridors and farmland. He called Richard Thompson “one of the most forward-thinking and insightful people I have ever known, and I am honored to call him my friend.”
The Thompsons had previously preserved 581 acres in Ashtabula County through conservation easements held by the Land Conservancy and Ashtabula County Soil and Water Conservation District.
“We are grateful to the Thompsons for their decision to permanently preserve some of the best natural resources in our region,” said Land Conservancy President and CEO Rich Cochran.
The Land Conservancy, which works to preserve the scenic beauty, rural character and natural resources of northern Ohio, was formed in 2006 by the merger of eight local land trusts. The organization grew again in 2009 when it merged with Grand River Partners.
To date, the Land Conservancy has preserved 421 properties and 28,721 acres. In 2011, the organization helped protect 49 properties encompassing 5,471 acres.
The Land Conservancy is headquartered in Chesterland and has field offices in Painesville, Orwell, Akron, Medina, Oberlin and Cleveland.