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Easement protects Frederick County property

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Billie and Sally Myers stand with their dog Raven next to the Hogue Creek in Frederick County. Their 210-acre Hogue Creek Farm has been protected from future development under an easement. Dennis Grundman/Daily

Myers family's Hogue Creek Farm will not be developed

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

GAINESBORO -- The Myers family rests easier knowing their parents' farm in Frederick County remains protected from development forever.

The Potomac Conservancy announced Monday it recently closed on a conservation easement to protect Hogue Creek Farm, a 210-acre tract north of Winchester.

A mountain ridge looks down a creek, which winds through fields and pastures by the family home, a former cattle barn and other farm buildings.

"My parents ... dearly loved it and I think they thought it would never be developed here 'cause it was such a rural county and just to have a sense that people would come out this way with suburbs or anything like that," Sally Myers, one of the couple's three daughters, said on the farm Monday. "Then they started to notice that there're lots more cars on Chestnut Grove and less tractors and they started talking to a neighbor who has his land in easement and kind of got that idea."

But when their father died and the mother moved into an assisted living center, Sally Myers, along with sisters, Billie Myers and Marynell Isles, recalled the family wondered how best to protect the farmland from development in the future.

The sisters came in contact with Emily Warner, land grant manager with the Conservancy, last spring.

"We had already decided we wanted to protect it," Sally Myers said. "We never wanted to see houses here or condominiums or any of that.

"It was important to both of my folks that this land stay in this one big piece and not be developed."

Lynn and Helen Myers bought the property in 1967 and used it to raise cattle, according to a news release from the conservancy. Myers sold the cattle about three years ago. She now keeps two horses on the property. The land remains in agricultural use because it can provide hay for other farmers, Sally Myers said.

The conservancy considers the Hogue Creek Farm property special in that it contains rolling pastures and more than 120 acres of forest. The land also fronts a half mile of the creek and almost another mile of smaller tributary streams, according to the release.

"I was just hoping that more people do this," Sally Myers said, who noted that another neighbor is considering putting land into protective easement.

The Myers' easement helped the conservancy hit a milestone in late December. The closing of five conservation easements covering more than 570 acres in West Virginia and Virginia brings the organization's total amount of land protected to more than 12,000 acres, according to the release.

The conservancy also closed easements to protect a 260-acre tract in Hampshire County, W.Va., known as the Shanty Farm. The five easements together protect almost five miles of riverside forest, the release states. Easements ensure the properties remain available for wildlife habitat, forestry and agriculture for future generations, according to the release.

Conservation easement donors such as the Myers' often can receive federal and state income tax benefits in exchange for their charitable gift, according to the conservancy. Warner, who helped the family through the process, notes in the release that landowners who donate a conservation easement still own the property and may use it as they did but with the knowledge it remains protected from development in the future.

Visit www.potomac.org for more information about the organization or, to put property into a protective easement, contact Warner at 667-3606.

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