Standing in the woods on the ridge overlooking the woodlands with Fish Creek bubbling by below, one can hear the wind in the balsams and smell the damp moss clinging to the trees. These are moments of great joy for Al and Barb Weiman as they walk through their little slice of Tug Hill wilderness.
The land is part of Al and Barb’s home away from home, a place that has long been part of their family, and now, will be protected for generations to come.
Al’s dad, Arsa, grew up here on a farm that spanned 400 acres along the East Branch of Fish Creek in Constableville. Now 97 he still lives in the Village of Constableville just a few miles down the road.
Over time all of the original farm was sold off yet Al, who had moved to Pennsylvania in 1974 to start his career, never forgot about the family’s land.
It’s taken a while, but Al and Barb have purchased almost 700 acres of land in the area, including the family land. “Most of the property we now own was part of my grandfather’s farm,” reflects Al. “We come back to this place, any chance we get. That’s why we built the cabin—so our family would have a place to come home to—a home that is now part of our grandchildren’s lives as well.” It’s also why Al and Barb conserved their land.
While much of the farm has grown into lush woodlands, it’s serving a different purpose than when Arsa and Al grew up here; it’s providing important habitat for birds like the wood thrush, pileated woodpecker, and great horned owls.
The land is part of a critical habitat migration route for bobcats and bears, fulfilling a key role in conserving the wildlife corridor between Tug Hill and the Adirondacks, spanning wetlands, the East Branch of Fish Creek, and a variety of woodland habitats. “Over time, this land could get sold off into small lots, destroying both its habitat and the ability to manage it as a productive woodland” explains Al. “We’ve seen that happen to areas in Pennsylvania, and we wanted to make sure that this part of Tug Hill didn’t face that future.”
Now Al and Barb’s children and grandchildren look forward to coming up to see their great grandfather and to sleep in the tiny cabin “For us, it’s nice to come home. Home is where the heart is, and our hearts are here, where my dad grew up…in the woods of Tug Hill.”