LERC Goes to Battles for Land Conservancy
Historic Girard farm property to be preserved for the public
Way back in the 1860s, when the Battles family first started growing corn, wheat, and barley on their Girard-area farm, their property spanned an impressive 300 acres, plenty enough land to cultivate a few fruits and nuts on the side (because plain cereal is boring, of course).
Fast forward 160 years and the historic property has been whittled down to 131 acres — still spacious for sure, but a fraction of what it used to be. That acreage accommodates a mature and diverse woodland of native trees, a walking trail, and now, thanks to the efforts of the Lake Erie Region Conservancy (LERC), a certain future.
Earlier this week, LERC announced it had obtained a conservation easement of The Battles Farm Trust property through the Hagen History Center (HHC), assuring the preservation of 84.5 acres of open land along Walnut Street and Tannery Road, straddling both Girard Borough and Girard Township. Funding was provided by the Department of Conservation of Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Erie Insurance Giving Network, with a donation value match from the HHC. Technical assistance is being supplied by the Pennsylvania Sea Grant Program.
Negotiations to conserve the remaining 46.5 acres are ongoing — nonetheless, the acquisition was no small potatoes (which the Battles also grew) for nature and history lovers alike.
Said David Skellie, LERC board president and PA Sea Grant's coastal land use specialist: "The Battles Farm acquisition will protect the property from being subdivided, fragmented or developed, which benefits the local community, economy, water quality of Elk Creek, and wildlife."
George Deutsch, executive director of the HHC, was also pleased with the partnership, saying: "With the conservation easement, the Board of the Erie County Historical Society renewed our commitment to the legacy of Ms. Charlotte Elizabeth Battles to preserve the property for future generations. The history of the Battles family runs deep in Girard and all of Erie County, and we are proud to be the stewards of the Battles Trust."
With the addition of the Battles Farm, LERC now holds five perpetual conservation easements that protect 226.5 acres, with a total value of $2,262,509. It also owns nine tracts of land outright, with a total area of 208 acres and total value of $1.3 million. Taking into account the transfer of 263 additional acres to governmental organizations, LERC has played a part in the conservation of nearly 700 acres in Erie County, with a combined value of $4,682,015.
That's 700 acres of PA Lake Erie watershed that will not be drained, degraded, or paved over for generations to come.
Matt Swanseger can be reached at email@example.com