Kent Land Trust celebrates its good fortune in two ways
"This is a fabulous conservation gift," said Land Trust President Bill Arnold. "Perhaps most important of all, it abuts our existing Rookery Preserve, enabling us to increase our protection for a nesting colony of Great Blue Herons."
The combined parcels create a protected area of 40 acres, trust treasurer Alice Hicks added.
The 28-acre parcel will be named the "Charles and Mary Beard Preserve," after Mr. Vagts' grandparents, who acquired the property in 1929.
"I used to work on the farm summers when my grandfather owned it," said Prof. Vagts. "During World War II, farmhands were hard to come by. I dreaded the thought of the property being divided up in small, developed pieces."
Prof. Vagts said it pleases him to think of the property being preserved in its natural state.
"There are many reasons to be excited about this wonderful gift," said Connie Manes, trust executive director. "The wetlands area between Leonard and Hatch ponds is a particularly sensitive environment. We are thrilled to protect this critical watershed filter and home to a wide variety of wildlife."
The major portion of the old Arno farm property, some 120 acres along the west side of South Kent Road, has been sold to F.K. Day, a Class of 1978 alumnus of South Kent School. Mr. Day plans to lease the farm property to his alma mater.
Mr. Day's vision is to create a second, agricultural campus of South Kent School at the farm site. The farm would be used for environmental studies.
The Kent Land Trust is "partnering with South Kent School on a number of conservation efforts" on the properties, Mr. Arnold said.
Dave Arno leased the farm property for 43 years. He sold off his dairy herd earlier this year and, in May, moved to his farm property in Upstate New York.
The Kent Land Trust had received significant good news of another variety recently when the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced in August the Kent Land Trust has been awarded accredited status.
"Accredited land trusts meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever," said Tammara Van Ryn, commission executive director.
"Accreditation is extremely important to the Kent Land Trust," said Mr. Arnold.
"It confirms that we conduct our work in an effective and ethical way," he said, "that we have the organizational and financial strength to promise that we can care for our conservation properties forever, and that donors can be certain their contributions will be invested wisely and carefully to protect the natural resources and rural character of Kent," he said.