In April 2009, Wayne and Susan Hill donated 45 acres of wetlands of both historic and environmental value to the Gettysburg Foundation. The wildlife habitat is located near the eastern base of Big Round Top at the southern end of the battlefield within the Battlefield Historic District and adjacent to Gettysburg National Military Park. Wayne Hill is a former Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg (now the Friends of Gettysburg) board member and the owner of Gettysburg Construction Co.
On July 23, 2009, the Gettysburg Foundation accepted a scenic, historic, open space conservation easement on a 61-acre parcel of property along Baltimore Pike from David LeVan, a Gettysburg resident and long-time supporter of the Foundation. The property is entirely within the boundary of Gettysburg National Military Park, adjacent to the Culp’s Hill area and Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.
With these two generous donations, the future of an additional 106 acres of historically significant land in or adjacent to Gettysburg National Military Park has been secured for future historians and visitors.
What is a land easement?
An easement is intended to place development and use restrictions on historic land and to assure that private activities will be compatible with the preservation and education objectives of Gettysburg National Military Park. In 1993, Public Law 101-377 directed the government to “acquire the minimum Federal interests necessary to achieve the objectives identified for specific areas and the park.” An easement becomes part of a deed and transfers with the deed when property ownership changes. An easement acquired by the United States is a recorded and legally enforceable interest in real estate property.
Land easements are used extensively in the land acquisition process, thus allowing some rights of ownership to remain with the individual land owner while at the same time protecting the land from commercial development. Property ownership may involve many different rights, for example, including the right to farm, build, exclude others from the property, extract minerals and perhaps others — all of which can be bought and sold. The National Park Service acquires some of these rights through the easement process and specific language, allowing the park to use the land for specific preservation objectives. An easement is nearly always in perpetuity, but there may be a temporary easement for a specified time period to allow for construction or other required access.
Appropriate easement terms and conditions are individually developed for each tract of land in order to assure the desired level of protection. The terms in an easement reflect the type of land, specific resources associated with the land and the long-term goals for the land. Benefits of land easement may include any or all of the following:
- Natural resource protection
- Cultural resource protection
- Habitat protection
- Archaeological resource protection
- Scenic values preservation
- Historic integrity preservation
- Enhanced and new interpretive opportunities
- Public access to historic property
- Local tax base impact reduction
Negotiating a Land Easement
Easement language for property within the defined federal boundaries is negotiated between the landowner and the National Park Service or its agent. The Gettysburg Foundation, as the principal preservation partner of the National Park Service at Gettysburg, may serve as a land acquisition agent when privately owned land becomes available within the congressionally defined boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park, the Eisenhower National Historic Site and the Gettysburg Battlefield Historic District.
Owners of land within the federal boundaries of the park or the historic district may contact the Gettysburg Foundation or the park to discuss their property and to learn more about placing an easement on their land. Interested parties may contact the National Park Service’s land specialist by e-mail or telephone 717-334-7633, or the Gettysburg Foundation at 717-338-1243.