MOUNT VERNON — Preserving the rural nature and natural beauty of Knox County against the encroachments of modern civilization is the mission of the Owl Creek Conservancy. Two major successes highlighted the group’s efforts over the past year.
For almost seven years, the Owl Creek Conservancy worked to obtain a conservation easement to protect a 274-acre farm at the confluence of the Kokosing River and its largest tributary, the North Branch of the Kokosing. The land is also part of the aquifer recharge area for Mount Vernon’s water supply.
That effort came to a successful conclusion in November 2011 with the establishment of a conservation easement on the farm owned by Daniel W. Galbraith. The easement was made possible by the generosity of Galbraith and donations from 64 individuals and three foundations, including the Ariel Foundation.
The easement will protect flood plain areas from development, help control sediment and erosion along the Kokosing by keeping a forested buffer between agricultural land and the Kokosing River, and maintain important natural habitat along the river.
The other success was in Milford Township, where Richard and Nancy Montgomery and their son, Richard, worked with Owl Creek to create easements on four farms — 653 acres — where they have been involved in dairy and crop production since 1968. The easements will assure the permanent use of their land for agriculture.
That means the land can be used for raising livestock, producing crops or even timber production, but it will not be an industrial site or housing development.
Owl Creek Executive Director Richard Stallard said the Montgomery land is actually covered by four easements. Their first was completed at the end of December 2010, their second and third were completed at the end of December 2011 and Richard Montgomery’s was completed in December 2011.