“Your land will never be timbered”

by Rob McCrea, Land Preservation Director

This article originally appeared in the summer 2020 issue of The Twig, our member newsletter. To see more articles and past issues, click here.

The best part of my job at Sycamore is working with property owners who want to protect their land. There is much more to protecting the land than the land itself, and this comes through in the connections we develop with landowners and learning about the land through their eyes and experiences. There are deep stories and relationships embedded there.

Last year, Sycamore worked with five landowners to protect more than 345 acres. In some cases, Sycamore’s relationships with the landowners had been developing for many years. Others came about more recently. All carried with them a sentimental purpose for protecting the land, with individual stories and histories of these special places.

Sometimes I can be caught off guard by some detail of a land acquisition that gives it resonance. While working on the recent donation of the Warren and Barbara Roberts Preserve in Monroe County, I came across a letter from Barbara Restle to the late Barbara Roberts [pictured at right with her husband Warren]. Barbara Restle was one of the first landowners to protect land with Sycamore, in 1993. She is one of Sycamore’s most longstanding supporters and a dear friend to our staff. The letter explained how Sycamore could protect the Roberts’ property— which the Roberts family ultimately decided to do.

I worked with Warren and Barbara Roberts’ children, Sarah and Elizabeth. They shared a little of the history with me. The land was purchased because of the quality of the hardwood trees — not for timbering, just to admire. Warren Roberts was a woodworker and appreciated the quality of the hardwood trees on the property. Sarah and Elizabeth called their family’s property the “40-acre woods” after Winnie the Pooh’s “100-acre woods.”

It is an honor to protect the woods that the Roberts family valued so much, and to be entrusted as a steward of not only the land, but also the Roberts family’s connection to it. As Barbara Restle told Barbara Roberts, the trees that she and Warren admired so much will never be timbered, just as the Roberts family wanted.