MORELAND HILLS – The Miller family, which owns Valley Head Farm in northeast Knox County, was recently honored for its conservation efforts by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.
The family worked with the Land Conservancy last year to preserve its 417-acre plot that splits the Knox-Holmes county line. The property is home to 140 acres of tillable farmland, which are rented out to soybean, corn and wheat farmers. The rest of the land is wooded, including 30 acres of white pine (planted by the Federal Conservation Reserve Program) and 247 acres of deciduous and coniferous tree species. The land sits at the heart of the scenic Mohican Region, and a portion of the Mohican River marks the farm’s western border.
By working with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, a regional nonprofit, the family preserved that land for years to come. The Miller family has owned the property since 1930, and last year Jean, the grandmother, and Bud, the grandfather, chose to conserve the property so it could keep its natural form for the foreseeable future.
Through the preservation process, the family had the ability to write the rules (via deed restrictions) for how the land would be used heading forward – thus saving it from development and lot-splitting that often occurs on rural lots in the Mohican Region.
The Miller family was one of four statewide to be honored by the Land Conservancy at its annual celebration on June 4. The family received the Grimm Family Conservation Medal for outstanding work in conservation.
“We were formed by, we are inspired by, and we are dependent on thoughtful, committed members of our community,” Rich Cochran, president and CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy, said in a press release about the event.
“This is one of my favorite nights of the year as we are able to honor and reflect on those who have given so much to not only our organization, but our community at large. Their efforts and their gifts in conservation will significantly impact the wellness and vitality of future generations.”
Aside from the Miller family, award-winners on June 4 included:
Jeffrey Holland, Sugar Maple Award. The Sugar Maple Award is the Land Conservancy’s highest honor and is awarded annually to an exceptional leader and conservationist. Holland founded the Medina County Land Conservancy in 1991 when he was struck by the rapid rate of development and loss of greenspace. The organization has since merged with the Revere Land Conservancy to become the Medina-Summit Land Conservancy and as of 2006, merged to become part of the Land Conservancy.
Holland has served on the Land Conservancy’s Board of Trustees for 11 years and is a member of the organizations White Oak Legacy Society. Holland and his wife, Maggie – renowned animal defense lawyers – donated a conservation easement on a portion of their 100-acre property in Wadsworth in 2008. Aptly named Frog Hollow, the property features mature beech-maple and mixed hardwood forest, old pasture, wet meadow, streams and ponds.
In addition to his recognition from the Land Conservancy, Holland also received a proclamation from Medina County Commissioners.
Betsy Juliano, Trustee Recognition. Betsy Juliano, a former board chair of the Land Conservancy, was recognized for her role as a Trustee on the Board of Trustees for more than two decades. Juliano’s passion for conservation and enduring love of the natural world is evident through her service to the Land Conservancy and also her decision to permanently conserve 345 acres of her beloved farm and forest land in Mesopotamia Township.
While she is retiring in her role as Trustee, her conservation legacy will surely live on. Juliano also received a proclamation from the Ohio Senate, which was drafted by Senator John Eklund.
The Baltes Family, Grimm Family Conservation Medal. The Baltes Family was one of two families awarded the Grimm Family Conservation Medal for outstanding work in conservation. Andy Baltes, a third-generation farmer, manages his family grain farm with his son, A.J., in Mahoning County. The donated conservation easements prevent future development of the 390 acres of the family farm in Mahoning County.
Andy is an extremely conservation minded farmer who has also recently completed three wetland restoration projects that not only sequester nutrients and sediment on his farm, but also provide high quality habitat for wildlife. The permanent conservation of the 390-acre Baltes Farm more than doubles the amount of lan conserved by Western Reserve Land Conservancy in Mahoning County.
ABOUT THE WESTERN RESERVE LAND CONSERVANCY
The Western Reserve Land Conservancy provides the people of northeast Ohio with essential natural assets through land conservation and restoration. The Land Conservancy preserves natural areas and working farms in 23 counties in northern and eastern Ohio; its urban program, Thriving Communities, works statewide to eliminate blight and create healthier environments in cities devastated by the foreclosure crisis.
To date, the Land Conservancy has permanently preserved more than 750 properties totaling 56,000-plus acres; worked with municipalities to create more than 170 public parks and preserves; led the efforts to create 55 county land banks across Ohio; and planted more than 6,000 robust trees in the City of Cleveland.
For more information, visit: www.wrlandconservancy.org.