let’s ease(ment) into it

Conservation Easement 1

It’s no secret that people are flocking to the Hudson Valley to sail on the Hudson River, explore the Shawangunks and Catskills, and enjoy the food that comes from our local farms. Many, too, are choosing to make this place home because it mixes small cities with rural communities and is still only a short drive or train ride from New York City.

But, all of this interest brings with it new challenges. Population increase naturally leads to more development, and many of the farms and open spaces that make this such a unique area are now at risk of being converted into subdivisions or strip malls. Subdividing large properties for housing and retail stores provide a quick return on developers’ investments, so they are often willing to pay more per acre than single families and farmers. In this way, the demand for living and playing in the Hudson Valley drives land values up, threatens farmland, and leads to sprawl.

In the United States, 13 million acres of farmland were converted to development between 1983 and 2010, averaging 1,320 acres per day. According to the latest USDA Census on Agriculture, Ulster County saw a 3% decrease in the number of its farms and lost nearly 4,000 acres of farmland between 2007 and 2012.

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