Every Friday we will feature a different landowner who took the steps to preserve their property. We begin with Tom Berry from a story written by Frank McIntosh.
The donor of conservation easements totaling more than 1,500 acres, Dr. Bob Harbin’s first easement, was put in place in 2001 and is in the Big Texas Valley in Floyd County, Georgia.
The easement is part of protected lands near Berry College. Beyond the valley lands, this easement also protects nearly a mile of the ridge top of Lavender Mountain.
The second of Harbin’s Floyd County easements protects nearly a mile of Coosa River bank shortly after it is formed at the confluence of the Etowah and Oostanaula and begins its 420-mile journey to Mobile Bay.
The property has 240 acres in cultivation with a portion dedicated to the Quail Conservation Reserve Program. Management practices on the land include planting warm weather grasses, doing controlled fire burns and disking the earth for the game
Bob says, “My hobby is habitat management—for quail, turkey, deer, and all wildlife. Everything you do for quail is good for everything else. We have a wildlife biologist who advises us on how to manage the habitat, a never ending job.”
Another Harbin easement is in Cherokee County, Alabama and has a mile of frontage on the east fork of the Little River on top of Lookout Mountain. “It’s an absolutely beautiful place, with unbelievable slopes to get down to river. It took eons for that river to cut its way down through that mountain,” Harbin noted.
Harbin’s devotion to the land comes in part from his father. “My father had to raise five kids. He was an ophthalmologist, like me, and he also loved land. When he bought the property in mid-60s, a banker friend said, ‘Well, if you’re determined to buy land you should get a Federal Farm Loan.’ He did that and got a long-term 3 percent loan. The farm leases on the property paid the note. Of course, that program doesn’t exist any more, but I still love land and like to own it.”