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In December, Grady and Dianne Swicord donated a 155-acre conservation easement to Freshwater Land Trust.

The Swicord easement is located on Coosa Mountain in Shelby County. Home to a healthy, diverse forest, the land provides wildlife habitat, beautiful views, and water quality protection in the Coosa and Cahaba watersheds. The Swicords join a growing community of landowners committed to preserving Alabama’s beautiful woods, rivers, wildlife habitats, and landscapes.

The Swicord easement is part of 954 acres managed by Freshwater Land Trust in Shelby County. It is priority one land according to our community conservation plan, a document identifying land based on our top five conservation values: water quality protection, biological conservation, recreation potential, important connections, and community priorities.

Below, Grady Swicord shares more about the history of his land and why his family has chosen to protect it.

Finding Their Land: In the ’90s, I had been searching the Internet for an undeveloped view property not too far from my home for my young family to enjoy. I found one which had a lovely description. I called the realtor, who simply told me the road the front gate was on. He wasn’t a hiker. When I arrived at the gate, I saw the “for sale” sign had deteriorated. I climbed over the gate and hiked down a path to a lake with a small island. A crystal clear stream came down from the mountain into the pristine lake. I enjoy hiking, so on that hot summer day, I found a rough trail through the woods, and hiked to the very top of the mountain ridge transversing the property. I walked along the ridge until I came to a large stone outcrop with a clear view to the south. The view of the lake far below and multiple distant ridges was stunning. I sat on a large boulder, felt the cool breeze, and watched the rafters glide over the ridge then back over the valley. I thought of how all the previous owners of this and adjacent properties had kept out development on this land in north Shelby County. I wondered how long such preservation would continue.

I decided to buy this beautiful piece of paradise right then and there. Surprisingly, my flip phone had service, and I called the realtor and made an acceptable offer. I named that large boulder Purchase Point.

Protecting Nature: My family desires to keep this land as a nature preserve. Trees are one of the main sources of carbon capture. Forests and streams sustain a magnificent ecosystem. I cannot directly protect the Amazon rainforest. That is for others to do. My wife and children – Dianne, Christopher, Minda, Meta, and Brittany – were determined to directly protect our nature preserve.

The Conservation Process: My accountant recently explained the tax benefit of donating a conservation easement to permanently preserve land you intended to keep undeveloped. I thought that was a great concept. My realtor told me he had worked with Freshwater Land Trust in the past to preserve some ridge property not far down my ridge. I researched them, then I made the call.

The process required several steps such as appraisal, survey, geological evaluation, and title search. Freshwater Land Trust helped with each step of the way. It takes some time, and there are expenses, but the process ends with the tremendous satisfaction of protecting beautiful property in perpetuity by the dedicated people of Freshwater Land Trust.

Freshwater Land Trust manages approximately 7,000 acres of private conservation land in Central Alabama. To learn more about our conservation services, click here or call our office at 205-417-2777.

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