Young Family Moves to Conserve Van Hornesville Water Supply
John P. Young and his two daughters, Connie and Rebecca, recently partnered with Otsego Land Trust to conserve 147 acres bordering Otsquago Creek in the first phase of a conservation project designed to protect the Van Hornesville water supply. Situated along the eastern gateway to Van Hornesville in southern Herkimer County, the Young property, on land that was once the Kelly Farm, encompasses several freshwater springs that flow into Otsquago Creek, some of which serve as the water supply for the village of Van Hornesville.
In the project’s second phase, the Youngs plan to conserve another 40-acre parcel that encircles freshwater springs selected by Van Hornesville as part of an initiative to move and upgrade the community’s water supply. “We are excited to work with the Town of Stark to update the local water supply for the village of Van Hornesville and the Owen D. Young Central School, and to partner with Otsego Land Trust in conserving the land that means so much to me and my family,” remarked Connie Young.
The Young Family Story
Young family history goes back for more than 10 generations in New York State. They first settled north of the Mohawk River in 1710 later migrating to the area now known as Van Hornesville in 1760. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that the first member of the family left the farm. His name was Owen D. Young, the famous industrialist.
Owen’s successful business practices brought him all over the world but he remained connected to his home and community returning to Van Hornesville every year to vote in the local elections. Van Hornesville’s strong sense of place inspired Owen to invest his wealth back into the community. This legacy of commitment to the community and land has clearly been passed down to John and his daughters Connie and Rebecca, two of 37 great grandchildren of Owen D. Young.
A Legacy for the Future
As a child, Connie spent every summer exploring her family property and a trail running through the nearby Otsquago Gorge. The route originally established by the Mohawk tribe is now known as the Robert B. Woodruff Outdoor Learning Center. Connie, an avid hunter and fisherwoman, was personally motivated to conserve the extensive forest and the wildlife habitat that it provides along Otsquago Gorge. Another motivating factor was the peace of mind that comes from knowing that Kelly Springs will be protected forever.
“Who knows what will change in the future,” she said after explaining the financial ups and downs experienced by landowners, including family members, who are forced to sell their properties. “Knowing that what I and my family value about our property will be conserved in the future brought an unanticipated sense of comfort. No longer do we have to worry about unwanted residential, commercial or industrial development of our beloved property when we are gone.”
Otsego Land Trust has partnered with 70 some families, like the Youngs, to protect over 7,300 acres in the Otsego region and is developing a network of public conservation areas, including a 15-mile water trail along Oaks Creek, from Canadarago Lake to the Susquehanna River.