Bob and Leif

Flying with a Mission

When we conserve thousands of acres of farms and woodlands with the landowners of Tug Hill—sometimes over 1,500 acres a year—we make a pledge to be here in partnership with them, and subsequent landowners, forever.

It’s a serious pledge, and one we don’t take lightly. Every conservation agreement is unique. They are tailored to the natural features of the land
and the goals of the landowner.

In accordance with national conservation standards, we meet with each landowner annually to ensure that vision is still intact and that they have the information they need to continue their conservation efforts.

Overhead shot with plane wing

Mission that might be impossible

As you can imagine, covering thousands of acres on foot would be an almost impossible task given everything else we need to do—but thanks to an extraordinary volunteer, we are able to observe the conserved lands by air.

Bob Keller is a long-time member of LightHawk, an international program of accomplished pilots who donate their time and their planes to assist conservation organizations.

Bob and his wife Carol have lived in Tug Hill for 25 years to the point where he’ll tell you that the woodlands and sounds of the ducks on his pond are what gets him up every morning. That and flying. Bob loves to fly. And so every year—for the past 10 years—Bob combines his passion for the air and the land by taking the land trust staff to view the landscape from above.

These annual flights take extensive planning to ensure we can locate each of the conserved properties from the air. Bob documents coordinates, juggles maps, ensures our staff avoid getting air-sick (as much as possible), and covers the costs of the gas and the plane ride.

But Bob remains undaunted. Year after year, Bob cheerfully takes on the task of Chief Conservation Pilot despite what can sometimes be a bumpy ride and a lot of work.

Our appreciation for Bob and what he offers local conservation spans thousands of acres, over years of amazing service. Please join us in thanking Bob for what may have been an initial fling but has become an annual ritual. Conservation in the Tug Hill wouldn’t be the same without him.