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Patrick and Diane Luther | forestland owners | Glocester, Rhode Island

(left to right) Patrick and Diane Luther, and Pooh VongkhamdyWhen Patrick and Diane Luther purchased 38 acres of Glocester, Rhode Island woodland, it was with the intention of developing house lots for their family. Jobs and school took their kids down other roads, however, so when the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service contacted them about protecting the land with a conservation easement, they were very interested.

“When we’re here in the middle of the woods, it’s wonderful; that's the way we like it,” said Patrick of their land in the northwest corner of the Ocean State. “We decided that we wanted to preserve the land the way it is.”

“We put Wetland Reserve Easement into place on about 26 acres here,” said Joe Bachand, Program Manager for NRCS in Rhode Island, explaining that the Luthers still own the land. “This easement connects already-protected wetlands through a riparian corridor, which provides wetland-dependent wildlife an area where they can walk from parcel to parcel.”

“It was relatively easy,” said Patrick. “Joe came out and explained the program to us. He said that the property was eligible to be entered into an easement in order to link other pieces of property for the North-South Trail and to protect the habitat that's in the woods out here.”

“There's a really nice kettle hole, which has some species of special concern for the state of Rhode Island,” said Joe, referring to a depressed area of land formed by retreating glaciers. “This easement will protect that kettle hole, and the upland surrounding it, for these wetland-dependent wildlife species.”

NRCS State Conservationist R. Phou Vongkhamdy explained that through the purchase of the easement, the landowners and government are partnering to conserve the wetland for wildlife, including some endangered and threatened species, and for people to enjoy the land. “In this land area, there is a corridor that connects to state land. The land will be protected not only by the state but also by these private landowners, as well.”

Wetland Reserve Easement boundary sign“Under the Wetland Reserve Easement program, landowners maintain five rights,” explained Joe. “They maintain the fee simple ownership so they can sell it to another party and the easement will go with it. They control access. They can allow people to use the property if they want, but they don't have to.  They keep the right to quiet enjoyment; they can walk around and enjoy the property and do recreational activities like hunting, fishing, and hiking.” He added that motorized vehicles are not allowed on the property because that would impact wildlife species that they are trying to protect.

“The main thing is to protect the land the way it is for all eternity,” said Patrick. “It's a great opportunity to keep things preserved.”