The Land Trust

While almost all of us have looked across a broad sweep of land - relatively unencumbered by human presence - and felt our hearts soar with the natural beauty, few of us have been inspired by that experience to take a stand, to "draw a line in the sand" against the capitalist, expansionist mentality. Co-founders Geoffrey Ovington and Bonnie Hoag created DWS&S to provide an example of paradigm shift and an eternal experiment in minimally managed natural resources. Land is a commodity in the United States, something to be bought and sold for profit, with little regard for the health or integrity of the parcel, except as it may affect the price. Natural Beauty is expendable if it interferes with short-term gain. This near-sightedness is a global affliction. The initial 175 acres of the Sanctuary were purchased in 1991 with the soul intention of donating them to a land trust.

In 1995 that dream was realized when Dionondehowa was incorporated as a non-profit entity and received this first donation of property a year later. In 2006, after a 4-year Capital Campaign to raise $50,000, an additional 42 acres were added to the forever-wild land trust. While the Sanctuary will be allowed, by law, to flourish in perpetuity, it will be little more than a 217-acre park amidst housing developments if the larger community does not invest in the same vision, expanding its concept of ownership and community. Indeed the land comprising DWS&S would have been a developer's dream: a paved, town-maintained road providing easy access to many lots with extraordinary views. As a land trust Dionondehowa is able to "hold" donations of property rights from other landowners along the river corridor, throughout the watershed and beyond. While there are tax benefits for such donations, these are of secondary importance to those who feel the critical necessity of allowing "nature to take its course," of withholding our human interference, and of appreciating from afar some of the remaining natural beauty.