As an award-winning author, Malcolm Gladwell is known for distilling vast amounts of research into a clear and compelling understanding of how the world functions. Working with the Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC), he has a new story to tell: protect land for future generations.
Gladwell recently donated the development rights on his 300-acre property in Columbia County, NY to CLC. Such transactions, which are called conservation easements, permanently protect the most important natural characteristics of a property. As with all easements, Gladwell can continue to live on and enjoy the land, and the property can also be used for agricultural and sustainable forestry activities.
It’s a gorgeous piece of property and I’d love to make sure future generations can enjoy it as much as I have.
Clean Water, Healthy Wildlife Habitat
Protecting the property helps to ensure clean water and healthy wildlife habitat, benefiting the ecological health of the county. The property includes multiple streams that feed into the Roeliff Jansen Kill, a major tributary of the Hudson River. One of these streams is designated as a trout spawning stream by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The property also contains over 10 acres of wetlands. Wetlands are vital to the natural systems of our environment. They filter the water, improving water quality. They protect against flood damage by soaking up and holding excess runoff. Wetlands also provide critical wildlife habitat because many species live and breed in or nearby wetlands.
This property exemplifies many of the qualities that make this county so rich in conservation values, and we are very pleased to include it among our protected lands. We are grateful for Malcolm Gladwell’s commitment to conservation and his gift to the community and to future generations.
Peter Paden, CLC’s Executive Director
The property is largely made up of woodlands and is part of an almost 13,000 acre forest tract. Forests like this one provide water quality protection, carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitat. The easement allows for the woodlands on the property to be managed under a forest management plan for conservation forestry, which will encourage timber growth. Protecting forests also provides benefits to human health, as trees sequester pollutants that contribute to asthma, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
The easement helps protect the exceptional scenic beauty for which Columbia County is widely known. The county is characterized by a rolling rural landscape bordered by the Hudson River to the west and the Berkshire and Taconic Mountains to the east. Situated just south of Albany and 100 miles north of New York City, the area is at risk from unplanned development. Conserving the property’s prominent ridges, which contain multiple 1,000-foot elevations, helps to ensure the permanence of scenic views. Protected landscapes like this one contribute to Columbia County’s $105-million tourism economy that sustains nearly 1,500 jobs.
Land Protection Requires Multiple Partners
Gladwell’s donation builds on the ongoing land protection efforts in Columbia County and throughout the region. CLC has worked with over 150 families and landowners to permanently protect more than 22,200 acres with conservation easements and more than 5,000 additional acres through acquisitions for public access.