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These are the woods, dark and deep: protecting Conners Hollow

cacapon-land-trust-landowner-stories-001Bob Poole was a world traveler. For 40 years he flew private jets for the likes of Kevin Costner, Snoop Dogg, corporate CEOs, and Saudi dignitaries. But West Virginia has always had a place in his heart. Since a boy in the early 50’s, Bob hiked and hunted the dark and deep woods of Conners Hollow. During those formative years, Bob always hoped he would some day own a piece of that land. And so he does. That opportunity came in 2001 when hunting buddy and long-time friend Bob Kerns sold Poole his first piece of the woods. Bob stands on his property and speaks emotionally about his friendship with Bob Kerns and how he first got to know the land.

A neighbor in Maryland, whose wife was from Morgan County, brought me up here to hunt when I was a boy. He had a primitive cabin built in the 1940’s at the other end of this Hollow that stills stands today. We still hunt from it. There I met Bob Kerns, a school teacher from Berkeley Springs. I was a boy and he was a young man. And as a matter of fact, right here by my cabin was one of the favorite hunting places. It was called the horse tree. The tree had grown in such a way it looked like a horse. That’s how I first came up here.

cacapon-land-trust-landowner-stories-003Kerns died in 2004 and Bob made a permanent marker for him which now rests in a special place on the property.

He added parcels until he put together the 134-acre property he owns today and that will forever be a part of him. So much a part, that he plans to some day be buried on it. Bob describes his feeling about the place and reflects on what he loves about it:

I used to tell Bob Kerns “Every day you’re up here you live one day longer”. And he would say “In that case I won’t leave and will live forever”.

And Poole takes great relief in knowing that his special place will look very much like it does now, one hundred years from now, because of the conservation easement he wrote and signed with the Trust on August 31, 2007.

This 134-acre parcel of rolling forested mountainsides and historic Conners Hollow Road (no longer used and relinquished by the state) along with its briskly running springs, beautiful ponds and intimate trails will remain as it is now. This karst landscape, with its incredible sinkholes, porcupine, rattlesnakes, wild turkey, black bear, bobcat, and bald eagles will continue to feed Bob’s spirit and those who come after him. He sums up how he feels about his conservation easement by saying:

cacapon-land-trust-landowner-stories-002“It gives me peace and contentment to know I’ve left this place in Connors Hollow protected — a place where others after me can enjoy the wonders of nature for generations to come.  This is a place where all God’s creatures great and small will have a home. This place is like an old friend I look after.  Now the Cacapon and Lost Rivers Land Trust has agreed to look after my old friend after I am gone.”

Like many of our easement donors, Bob is a driven man and he didn’t stop with the protection of just his special place. He invited the Trust to speak with his neighbors about land protection – and so we did. His passion and his ability to “walk the talk” resonated with his neighbors who elected to do the same. By year’s end the Trust permanently protected four adjacent parcels to Bob’s. These parcels included 221 acres owned by Warren, Linda and Todd Buzzerd, 225 acres owned by members of the Across the River Hunt Club, 132-acre owned by members of the Little Mountain Hunt Club, and 131-acres owned by members of the Rattle-1-Up Hunt Club and a 244-acre parcel owned by Jay and Debra Lawyer.

In August of 2008 Bob Poole joined our board and we’re proud to have him guiding us. His passion and inspiration for land protection feeds us all and his creative ideas keep us from stagnating and ever pushing forward in our unending work to protect special places in the Cacapon & Lost Rivers watershed.

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