Fred M. and Walker D. Kirby Land Stewardship Endowment


Helping to fund perpetual care of working farms and forests under conservation easements

Conservation easements play a leading role in preserving undeveloped land across the Adirondacks—but the agreements carry significant long-term responsibilities that are easy to overlook. The F.M. Kirby Foundation in 2015 established the Adirondack Land Trust's Fred M. and Walker D. Kirby Land Stewardship Endowment to provide and inspire greater support for the critical but unseen role of stewardship in land conservation.

“Purchase of land, or protection by voluntary agreement with a private landowner, is just the beginning of conservation work,” said S. Dillard Kirby, president of the F. M. Kirby Foundation. “Stewardship is forever. We hope this grant will encourage others to support long-term conservation needs at the Adirondack Land Trust.”

Michael T. Carr, executive director of the Adirondack Land Trust, said the grant is an important tool in attracting more support for the trust's stewardship efforts. “The F. M. Kirby Foundation has been a key partner in Adirondack land protection since 1974,” Carr said. “The foundation has worked with Adirondack Land Trust for decades, now making the largest grant in the land trust’s history. The Fred M. and Walker D. Kirby Land Stewardship Endowment is truly a lasting legacy.”

The endowment honors Fred M. Kirby II, who passed away in 2011, and his wife, Walker. Walker continues to serve on the board of the F. M. Kirby Foundation, based in Morristown, New Jersey, with next-generation members of the family, who share her love of the Adirondacks and her support for effective private conservation action.

The Adirondack Land Trust protects working farms and forests, unbroken shorelines, scenic vistas and other lands contributing to the quality of our communities as well as the wildness and rural character of the Adirondacks. The Kirby Endowment will boost the land trust’s capacity to care for 50 conservation easements spread across a 9,000-square-mile region of northern New York. These properties include 20 working farms that produce milk, apples, eggs, cattle and hay (7,363 acres); 3,327 acres of working forests; 1,274 acres of recreation lands; and 1,733 acres of forested shoreline properties.

A conservation easement is a voluntary land-preservation agreement between a landowner and a land trust that determines how a tract will be managed and how its conservation values will be maintained over time. It is a legally binding pact that runs with the land no matter how many times a property changes hands. In accepting a conservation easement, the Adirondack Land Trust assumes a responsibility to monitor the property and ensure that easement goals are met in perpetuity. Stewardship includes regular site visits, working with landowners to advance mutual objectives, keeping accurate records, and communicating effectively to avoid violations of easement terms. It costs approximately $5,500 per year per easement for the Adirondack Land Trust to meet these legal and moral obligations.

Before the grant, ALT’s stewardship endowment balance was $1 million. The total needed to generate enough interest to care for all current easement holdings is $6 million. The F. M. Kirby Foundation grant is increasing the land trust’s conservation capacity and raising the profile of this quiet but important work. Another goal of the foundation is to encourage other donors to help the Adirondack Land Trust meet the remaining $3 million need.Donate >>