Landowners Success Stories

The Tomhannock Rural Land Campaign is a new initiative, but the partner organizations have been working in Rensselaer County for many years. Dozens of local landowners have already worked with us to hold on to their land, reduce their taxes, support local agriculture, and preserve their family legacy in the community.

Schmidt Farm - 3_edited.png

David Schmidt

Partnered with the Agricultural Stewardship Association

Dave Schmidt conserved his 217-acre beef cattle farm in Pittstown in 2018. ASA secured state funding to conserve the farm to protect the Tomhannock Reservoir. The state payment funded a portion of Schmidt’s retirement and — kept the land in agriculture. Schmidt is planning to sell the land to his farmhand at an affordable price.

Gerald and Shirley Dunn_Shadbush CE_edit

Gerald and Shirley Dunn

Partnered with Rensselaer Land Trust

The Dunns wanted to keep their land near Schodack in the family, while shielding it from future development. In 2011, they signed their voluntary land protection agreement. They retained private ownership of the property. The Dunns are so proud of their protected area that they named it the “Shadbush Hill Preserve.” 

“It will always be a beautiful tract of land,” Shirley said.
 

me and ry 2017_edited.png

Rynard Jr. and Ingrid Gundrum

Partnered with Rensselaer Plateau Alliance

The Gundrum Logging and Lumber company sold more than 900 acres of prime forestland to RPA in 2016. Responsible timber harvests will continue, and the public can visit the forest.

“The overwhelming support we've received from neighboring landowners has been gratifying,” the Gundrums said. “The land will remain on Rensselaer County’s tax rolls.”
 

Noel and Judy 036_edited.png

Noel and Judy Hanf

Partnered with the Agricultural Stewardship Association

Attracted to the rural lifestyle, the Hanfs purchased the O’Donnell Hill Farm, a charming cluster of houses, barns, and fields along Route 61 in Jackson. Committed stewards of the land, the Hanfs donated their first 130-acre easement in 2007. In 2015, the Hanfs approached ASA to protect the rest of it.

 

“ASA can be a steward of the land longer than we can,” the Hanfs said.
 

Ken James

Partnered with Rensselaer Plateau Alliance

For decades, Ken attempted to restore the American Chestnut on his land in Stephentown, grafting blight-resistant shoots, and thinning the forest to allow them to grow. As Ken reached retirement age, his work was not quite done. To ensure his work would live on, James reached out to the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance.

 

Ken donated his land to RPA. RPA secured funding from the state of New York to improve public access, and enlisted partners to continue James’ work. Today, Chestnut Hill is a 35-acre education and research site, open to the public. 
 

Foggy Forest

Alice LeBlanc

Partnered with Rensselaer Land Trust

Alice LeBlanc has treasured her 76 acres in Stephentown, and hated the thought of losing it to development. RLT negotiated a voluntary land protection agreement with Alice that met her needs. The agreement protects most of the land, but excludes two lots close to the road where her children can build homes in the future. 

“Several neighbors have told me how happy they are that I protected the land,” LeBlanc said.