In 1977, Peggy and Peter Hepler purchased a historic 40-acre farm in the wooded town of Pelham. As the decades passed, a lot happened on the Hepler homestead. Children grew and departed, grandchildren came to explore the farm, and the land thrived under the Heplers’ care. Caring for the land, their family became intertwined with the history of the place. Peggy, an avid historian, wanted to maintain a sense of continuity with the past when the land was settled by Scot-Irish immigrants in the 1740s and native peoples hundreds of years before that.
Because of their love of history and place, the Heplers chose to conserve their land—and continue to own and care for it, during their lifetime. Through a tool called a conservation restriction, they can protect the land now, but sell, bequeath, or transfer the land to others in the future, and rest assured that the land they love will be respected for generations to come. As Peggy put it, “ Especially in this time of climate change, we are pleased to imagine that the forest’s plant and animal inhabitants will continue to have a home on our land along with future residents.” The Heplers’ donation has since inspired four other neighbors to permanently protect their land in the new Buffam Brook Community Forest.