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    Lowville, New York

    143 Acres | February 9, 2005
    Owned in Title

    Like the woods in Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Gale Nord’s permanently protected wildlife sanctuary is, indeed, “lovely, dark, and deep.” This ideal wildlife habitat encompasses 143 acres of Adirondack woods, streams, and bogs in Watson, New York.

    The Nord Wildlife Sanctuary land is home to deer, beavers, red squirrels, turtles, pileated woodpeckers, and many resident and migratory songbirds. The property features a stream confluence at a beaver pond and small waterfalls on Black Creek.

    While many people purchase wild lands with the thought of someday profiting from their sale to developers, Ms. Nord purchased this property in 1973 solely for appreciating nature, walking, taking photographs, and camping. There are no buildings or development on the land or any roads running through it.

    She donated the property to HSWLT but still visits sometimes, and the land continues to provide her with an oasis of natural wonder. “Whenever I can, I arrange to visit the sanctuary and walk into what will always be ‘my woods’—to see the animal tracks, have tea on a rock in the beaver pond, or listen to the red squirrel, woodpecker, or raven overhead,” Ms. Nord said. “In the spring, I want to watch the water charge over Brech Gloamin and Dhu Dahffen Falls downstream from the beaver dam and remember the times I walked there with the two Scotties the falls are named for.”

    Like many landowners with woodland properties, she was approached several times by developers, but Ms. Nord steadfastly followed her belief that such a place should be kept forever wild. As a naturalist and nature photographer, she felt a deep appreciation for the land from the first time she saw it. “Being always fascinated with the natural world, for me to have that acreage was how owning an original van Gogh must be for an art lover,” she explained. “Only, my treasure was alive.”

    While some logging occurred on the property around the turn of the twentieth century, it has been allowed to recover since then. Lands around it include other wooded properties, some with small second homes and some that are being logged, so this sanctuary will become increasingly important to local wildlife. While she knows that other properties around her may be developed over time, it comforts Ms. Nord to know that her land will always remain natural habitat.

    “One hundred fifty acres more or less can’t save life on Earth, but it is the biggest thing I can do toward that end.” For the animals counting on her land, though, and for all those to follow there, it is 150 acres that might otherwise have been rendered unusable as habitat if someone else had decided the land’s future. Thankfully, Ms. Nord has taken the path less traveled by, making wildlife’s needs a true priority, and that has, indeed, made all the difference.

    Written by Debra Firmani

    The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust holds the title to this sanctuary.  That means HSWLT is responsible for all property taxes and maintenance costs for the property -- every year, forever.  In addition periodic inspections are made to ensure that the wildlife habitat remains in good condition.  These inspections, and the handling of any damage or destruction, cost heavily in professional staff time and travel expenses.

    HSWLT has promised to keep this property as a sanctuary forever -- and that promise will be kept.  If you can help with the cost of stewardship for this and the other properties HSWLT protects, please donate here.

    Beaver Close-up

    Though beavers are cousins to mice and squirrels, they are North America's largest rodents, weighing 50 or more pounds.


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