In a narrow bay northwest of the Lake Champlain Bridge in Crown Point, mountains swoop down to meet water with such drama that it reminds Sadie Mosley of a Scandinavian fjord. Her husband, Neil, agrees, as they look from their kitchen window toward the bridge that connects New York with Vermont. Their firsthand knowledge of fjords comes from living in Norway, which is where they were in 2015 when Neil found the real estate listing online for what is now their year-round home in Moriah.

Their 50-acre tract features open fields that provide the only view of Lake Champlain from State Route 9 between Westport and Port Henry. Drivers regularly pull over to snap photos of the bucolic scene. Thanks to a permanent conservation agreement between the landowners and the Adirondack Land Trust, everyone who loves this view from the road can rest assured that it will be here forever.

The Mosleys are carrying forward a conservation arrangement put into place two decades ago by previous landowner Karen Lawaetz. In 2003, Karen sent a handwritten note to Adirondack Land Trust Executive Director Mike Carr that read, “You a doing a very great service to future generations as well as today.”

Karen’s connections to the land ran as deep as the deepest fjord and she wouldn’t sell to just anyone. Sadie and Neil first had to “pass” her test to make sure that their values and intentions aligned with hers.

The Mosleys sought a farming lifestyle as a retirement goal, and after living abroad for many years, wanted to settle in a place that would be a draw for friends and family to visit so they could stay put. This property checked multiple boxes for them. Their interests passed muster with Karen.

Today, in accordance with no-till farming practices, a neighbor hays part of their field and pastures half a dozen heifers, which helps to keep the soil healthy. Broiler chickens aerate the soil and disperse nutrients left behind by the cows. The Mosleys are experimenting with growing Cascade, Chinook, and Brewer’s Gold varieties of hops and are interested in getting them into the hands of local brewers. In a six-acre plot, they manage grasses and flowers for honeybees, butterflies, moths, and other other pollinating insects.

Sadie and Neil are demonstrating what Karen knew all along: Private land conservation requires good stewardship and, in turn, contributes to a greater good. This is especially true in the Champlain Valley, where there are fewer acres protected compared to the rest of the Adirondack Park, and farmland is as defining a feature of the landscape as Lake Champlain.

Photo by Nancie Battaglia