Ruth & Dave Pardoe
Joy Hill, Huntington
From their 85 acres in Huntington, Ruth and Dave Pardoe enjoy views stretching out over the Westfield River Valley, Mount Pisgah, and beyond. Joy Hill is named in honor of early owners of that hilltop, Revolutionary War soldier Rufus Joy, and his wife, Relief, who are buried in a nearby cemetery. It is a fitting name for a place that gives such pleasure, and Joy Hill’s current owners plan for it to provide pleasure well into the future.
The Pardoes keep Joy Hill’s spectacular view open by mowing 10-15 acres and working with a forester to keep the trees cut back. Most of the wood cut on their land is used for firewood, including poplars recently used by a local sugarer in his sugarhouse. They also have a garden, trails, and lots of nest boxes for bluebirds and other birds.
Preserving the view and rural character of their property takes more than mowing fields and cutting trees. In the early 1990’s, the Pardoes deeded a conservation restriction on 80 acres of their property to the Hilltown Land Trust. That restriction means that in perpetuity, Joy Hill will be free of buildings, paved roads or mining. It can, however, be used for farming, lumbering and hiking, as well as remain home to the many deer, turkeys, bear and other wildlife that live there. The Pardoes kept their home and barn out of the restriction, as well as one building lot in case one of their children wants to live there.
The Joy Hill conservation restriction was the first held by the Hilltown Land Trust and Ruth and Dave actively encourage other landowners to provide similar protection to their properties. The Hilltown Land Trust has helped preserve over 2,450 acres in the nine Hampshire County hilltowns, especially seeking to protect properties in the Westfield River watershed, agricultural land and special wildlife habitat. Because Joy Hill abuts state forest land, it helps provide a large area for wildlife. The Land Trust has been able to protect other large areas around Mt. Pisgah. They encourage landowners to continue to own and use their property while deeding conservation restrictions to the Land Trust. Landowners can customize their restrictions to meet their goals for the land and are still able to sell their land with the restriction staying with the deed. Conservation restrictions provide some tax savings, and may increase the value of the property for people wanting areas of undeveloped land around them.
Ruth and Dave know that property owners face many decisions about how to manage and use their land, as well as pressure to sell it. They regularly receive offers to purchase Joy Hill, from as far away as realtors in California, to sightseers stopping by their house to take in the view. Ruth and Dave aren’t interested in selling. For Ruth “it is such a joy to know that generations after us, people will still be able to come up this road, stop, and look out over the hills. The view will be a joy for others long after we’re gone.”
By Mary McClintock, from the The Highland Communities Initiative My Place is the Highlands series. Reprinted with permission.