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    Oneonta, New York

    87 Acres | April 11, 2004
    Irwin Gooen
    Conservation Easement


    Not many of us can say we have lived in the same place for more than 30 years. Even five years in a given place is a stretch for some. Countless things have caused this growing transience in our lives, and, whatever we may gain in variety of experience, we lose the chance to feel rooted to the rocks and trees, the sounds and smells of a given place. For those who stay put long enough to see more than a decade unfold in one place, though, the land itself becomes – as much as any human-made dwelling upon it – home.

    So it was for Irwin Gooen, whose 87-acre property in Oneonta, New York, was his home for more than 35 years, as well as a favorite place of peaceful recreation. Affectionately named the Shoggi-Boghi Wildlife Sanctuary, in honor of a fond childhood memory, the land stirs with all manner of wildlife, in turn, stirring the senses, and, no doubt, stirring many memories for its longtime resident. When friends came to visit Mr. Gooen, he shared what he considered the most important part of his home with them – the outdoors – by taking them on a hike. A meandering creek that crosses a road serves as a perfect starting point, and he enjoyed trekking the land and observing the birds and other wildlife. He always posted the property against hunting, trapping, and off-road vehicles.

    In the marshland, ruffed grouse may be nesting. Woodcocks can be heard, and he occasionally heard the gentle calls of nesting whippoorwills on summer evenings, coming from a neighbor’s property. Wooded areas comprise the majority of the land, harboring white-tailed deer, red foxes, Virginia opossums, coyotes, wild turkeys, and barred owls. Red-tailed hawks are often seen circling above. A great blue heron from down the road flies low over the property, perhaps hoping to discover small prey in or near the creek. When these close-up fly-bys coincide with visitors’ hikes, it can seem like a bit of choreographed excitement, he said, but they are just part of the natural flow of the habitat.

    Mr. Gooen’s deep appreciation of the wildlife on his land ran deep, and he was likewise protective of the Oneonta community itself. He long defended it against the push for development. Knowing that he wouldn’t be around forever to protect his land and its wildlife, he sought permanent protection for both through the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust. The security of knowing that it is “locked in” as a protected sanctuary enabled him to more freely enjoy the land and its wildlife untroubled by fears for their future well-being.

    Mr. Gooen passed away in July 2010, but his legacy of the Shoggi-Boghi Wildlife Sanctuary remains forever as a safe haven for the wildlife who will always call it home.

    Although this sanctuary remains privately owned, the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust has an obligation to perform periodic inspections to ensure that the wildlife habitat remains in good condition and that the terms of the conservation easements are being met.  These inspections, and the handling of any destruction or violations, cost heavily in professional staff time, consultants, and travel expenses. In addition HSWLT needs a reserve of funds for the substantial legal fees needed if enforcement of violations involves court action.

    HSWLT has promised to protect this property as 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.

    Living with Woodchucks

    Living peacefully with our wild neighbors can be a real joy. Learn how to share your land with woodchucks.


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