Wallkill Valley Land Trust Announces Permanent Protection of 320-Acre Masterson and Faurie Farm

May 3, 2024

Lynn Faurie on the farm. Photo: Christie DeBoer

May 3, 2024

Wallkill Valley Land Trust Announces Permanent Protection of 320-Acre Masterson and Faurie Farm

 

The Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT) is thrilled to announce the permanent protection of 320 acres of forest and farmland located in the towns of Marlborough and Plattekill, Ulster County, New York. The Masterson and Faurie Conservation Easement, completed earlier this spring, secures the future of this scenic property and ensures it will remain a working farm and natural resource for generations to come.

“We are incredibly grateful to Barbara Masterson and Lynn Faurie for their commitment to land conservation,” said WVLT Executive Director Christie DeBoer. “This conservation easement protects a beautiful and productive piece of Ulster County farmland, and it provides a critical wildlife corridor for a variety of species.”

“This is the second conservation easement to be completed by WVLT in the Town of Marlborough, and the first for the organization in the Town of Plattekill,” said Board President Joe Pirrotta, “expanding our land preservation work further into southern Ulster County. The mixture of healthy forest and organic farming present highlights the core of WVLT’s mission.”

The Masterson and Faurie property has a rich history dating back to 1910, when Lynn’s grandfather first purchased the land as a family vacation getaway. They started a modest fruit farm, growing grapes, apples, pears, and tomatoes. The property’s unique soil composition and geography make it ideal for fruit tree production. In the 1940s, the family transitioned to dairy farming, and Lynn’s father milked cows on the property until 1999. Today, the farm raises beef cattle.

The property also includes several impressive stone buildings built by Italian stone masons during the Depression. The sturdy structures include fireplaces and have been partially renovated to accommodate modern living.

WVLT Executive Director Christie DeBoer first met with Barbara Masterson and Lynn Faurie in 2011 to talk about land protection and their wishes for their land. Christie explained what a conservation easement is, how specific each agreement must be to capture the specific conservation values along with the owner’s future wishes, and some of the scenarios for what a future legal agreement might want to include.

Deciding to place a permanent legally-binding land preservation agreement onto your property is not something that is done in haste. Lynn and Barbara continued to talk to WVLT about what a final agreement would look like in the years that followed, and WVLT learned more about the family history on the land.

For the Masterson and Faurie Properties, the deeds for the 15 parcels, which make up the 14 tax plots, were a challenge. Specifically, the deed descriptions lacked clarity as they are original and rudimentary. Extensive survey work was required, but the cost of this survey work put this entire project on hold.

WVLT talked to partners, exploring ways to fund this expensive, but necessary property survey. As the years passed, the interest Barbara and Lynn had for their 320-acre farm with its important habitats and forest lands to be protected in perpetuity did not falter.  And WVLT’s interest in seeing the project completed continued to grow. As stated in the NYS Open Space Conservation Plan, the protection of lands such as the Masterson and Faurie parcels ensures clean water, air and land for a healthy public and vibrant economy, and protects natural resources which address climate change.

In 2022, WVLT learned about a new opportunity from land conservation partners: Scenic Hudson’s Climate and Environmental Justice Funding grant program. Rotational grazing and agricultural use on some locations on the property, balanced with the forestry management program which began in 1985, provides a combined sustainable, preservation-minded active management of this vast expanse of undeveloped land. WVLT felt that the Masterson and Faurie’s 320-acre Properties are a prime example of Scenic Hudson’s “sweet spot” where multiple goals for conservation investment can be met with its permanent protection. Scenic Hudson agreed, awarding the grant in 2023 to WVLT and the vitally important survey work was completed in the Fall.

Scenic Hudson was thrilled to contribute to the conservation of this important property along the Marlborough ridgeline,” said Seth McKee, Executive Director of the Scenic Hudson Land Trust. “Saving large, intact properties like this is one of the prime reasons Scenic Hudson created our Climate and Environmental Justice grants, which focus on projects that benefit the environment, wildlife, the economy and communities. This land acquisition not only ensures the ongoing operation of this long-standing organic cattle and dairy farm, but helps combat the climate crisis by conserving forest land, and contributing to the state’s ‘30×30 initiative’ – conserving 30% of remaining open land by 2030.”

Barbara Masterson and Lynn Faurie continue to operate B&L 4E Farms in Marlborough alongside their family members. Certified organic for over 20 years, they provide pasture-raised beef, chicken and pork, as well as farm fresh eggs.  Barbara and Lynn are both retired teachers, and while not caring for the property, Barbara uses her artistic ability to highlight an important, but overlooked aspect of agriculture: the migrant workers. As her website states: “These workers are some of the ‘faceless’ people that impact our lives. Getting to know and then paint them has transformed Barbara and her work.” You can see some of her work thanks to a grant funded banner project which remains up through this summer. The “Hands That Feed Us” project was made possible thanks to the Statewide Community Regrants Program, a regrant program of the NYS Council on the Arts with support of the Office of the Governor and the NYS Legislature, administered by Arts Mid-Hudson. For more information, visit Barbara’s website at BarbaraMasterson.com

Protecting this farm, and these lands, forever is a legacy they have now achieved as WVLT will steward this easement in perpetuity.