“Anything-but-Easy Conservation Easement” is the subject of the November meeting of the Washington Area Butterfly Club. Join us at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, November 13, at the Teale Learning Center, Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) Headquarters at Woodend, 8940 Jones Mill Road, Chevy Chase, Maryland. The speakers are Pat Durkin and Dick Smith. Pat and Dick will relate, hopefully now with humor, their long, bumpy effort to perpetually preserve arguably the finest freshwater wetland rare butterfly habitat in Maryland — perhaps the region. Everyone wanted this to happen, particularly the landowner, Vlad Dupre, who wound up unexpectedly having to put up for $10,000 worth of property surveys of various types plus a lawyer for the privilege of giving away his right to develop his gorgeously rural Garrett County property — giving it up entirely for every future owner, as well, therefore effectively decreasing the value of his land.
No one, by the way, is standing in line to develop it, now or in even the distant future. Should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong. Anything but. Don’t over-caffeinate before coming to hear about the obstacles, one after another, every one inexplicably difficult and unexpected, making for unrelieved frustration for everyone involved. I kid you not, Pat, a fully grown and seasoned women, was more than once in tears of despair and frustration. Dick chewed his nails and guarded his commentary with emails to people who were already just as frustrated as he. A year and a half of this until the easement was finalized, only last month, on the eve of Vlad’s 90th birthday (“I want this done before I die,” he said more than once.), on the eve of Vlad’s selling this beloved family retreat and moving into senior housing near his daughter in California.
Bottom line: All in the nick of time or they would have had to start over with the then unknown new owner. (He’s on board now, completely. Whew!) Yes, the speakers would do it all again, and happily if it would preserve specialized rare butterfly habitat of which there is little left anywhere. At this meeting they will tell you, in case you want to try it yourself, how to pull it off, assuming your nerves can take it. Frankly, Pat and Dick are recovering, but with this little bit of distance, they are at last beginning to talk about the experience. So please be gentle with them — Rob Simmons.
[Note that this is not the usual location for WABC meetings!]