“Our dream is to have our farm preserved in its current state, so we can pass it down to our son, Donald, his wife, and their three children,” explained Jefferson and St. Lawrence County landowners, Hampson and Betty Platt “and now through this ACUB program we’re going to be able to do just that.”
The 566-acre Platt farm is the eleventh property to be protected through the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program. The ACUB program is a unique conservation partnership between Fort Drum, Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust and Ducks Unlimited that works to limit use or development of property near the Fort Drum installation to agricultural and forestry uses. This minimizes encroachment that would otherwise negatively affect the ability of military to train realistically, while protecting conservation values and open space. Currently, ten other properties, totaling 2,430 acres have been conserved with agreements through the ACUB program. The Platt farm borders a few of these properties, as well as several pending projects.
When participating with the ACUB program, farm families work with Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust and Ducks Unlimited to create a conservation plan for the property. The plan addresses immediate and long-term goals, while ensuring flexibility for future operations. Farm families are then paid through the ACUB program for the appraised value of their non-farm development rights, as determined by a state-qualified appraiser familiar with this type of conservation project. The properties remain in private ownership and stay on the tax rolls. The farmers are not told how to farm or manage their land in the agreement, as Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust believes farmers are important stewards of the land. This benefits the landowner, the land trust, and the Army all at once. It’s an important program, because it secures the Fort Drum mission, our country’s mission, and it’s important to the local economy.
The Platt’s now have two separate easements on their properties, located in both the Town of Antwerp in Jefferson County and the Town of Rossie in St. Lawrence County. They purchased the parcel located in Rossie 39 years ago. The parcel in Antwerp was added in the 1990s, and they have since made that their home. Their son, Donald, currently lives on the original parcel, which is also a working dairy farm. The Platt’s love having their son nearby, and are equally thrilled to have their property preserved for him and his family to continue dairy farming for years to come.