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Chambers Farm Protected with Conservation Easement in Person County
TIMBERLAKE – Since sisters Betsy Bombick and Nola Knouse were children, their farm in Person County has been an important place to reconnect with nature. Both fondly recall walking in the woods and fields year-round, spending time with nearby family, and working on their aunt’s Person County tobacco farm in the summers. Over the years, the farm has continued to be a place for the sisters, their husbands, and extended family to gather and to spend time outdoors.
Mrs. Bombick and Rev. Knouse refer to their 97 acres of land as the “Chambers Farm,” in honor of several generations of their Chambers ancestors who owned the land before them. A Chambers family graveyard is located here. Their family’s long connection to the land and their love of nature led them to Tar River Land Conservancy (TRLC), seeking options to keep the land from ever being turned into neighborhoods or commercial buildings. In 2021, Mrs. Bombick and Rev. Knouse decided to partner with TRLC to place a conservation easement on their farm. That partnership resulted in the signing of a conservation easement agreement in December. As the holder of the conservation easement, TRLC will ensure that the farm remains undeveloped forever.
A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement that permanently limits uses of a property in order to protect its conservation values. The terms of the Chambers Farm conservation easement allow for the land to be managed for timber and agricultural activities, except in stream buffers that will remain undisturbed as wildlife habitat. The landowners may use the farm for recreation, harvest timber, manage the land for wildlife, or lease it to others for agriculture or hunting, but the farm is now permanently off-limits to residential or commercial development.
Rev. Knouse states that she is “grateful for the certainty that this land won’t be carved up, paved over, and built upon. So that people many years from now may be able to breathe more deeply and live with more awareness of the gift of life itself.”
Anyone who’s driven US Highway 501 from Durham to Roxboro has driven past the Chambers Farm. The farm sits on the north side of the Flat River on both sides of the highway. The Chambers Farm is a mix of beautiful oak and pine woodland and agricultural fields. For many years, Betsy and Nola have leased their cropland to the Foushee family, who are based in Hurdle Mills.
“This conservation easement is a tribute to those who have lived, worked, and walked on this land,” stated Betsy. “It’s now set aside in memory and honor of all who have been here.”
The conservation easement prohibits timber harvests on the hillsides along the Flat River and several streams inside the farm. This will help protect habitat for several rare and endangered fish and wildlife species that reside in the river by helping filter rainwater from fields before it reaches the river and smaller streams.
Betsy and her husband David are avid naturalists who’ve catalogued the birds and other wildlife on the farm over the years. “Being able to set aside sections of forest and fields will benefit plants, insects, birds, and other animals that were here long before humans and we hope will be here for generations to come,” she noted.
In addition to being important habitat, the Flat River supplies Lake Michie and Falls Lake, drinking water reservoirs for Durham, Raleigh, and other communities. TRLC was awarded a grant from Durham’s Water Supply Watershed Protection Program to cover costs of the Chambers Farm conservation easement project.
“This farm is a very special place for Betsy and Nola,” stated Derek Halberg, TRLC Executive Director. “We are grateful that they opened the door to the Conservancy to help protect it. We hope that their actions will inspire other folks to explore ways to preserve their family’s land.”
If you or a family member are interested in speaking with a TRLC representative about options to protect your land, please contact Derek Halberg by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 919-496-5902 during business hours.