I enjoy watching an approaching storm roll across the valley. Distant lightning on the horizon and the grass in the field moving like an ocean. I enjoy seeing thousands of fireflies decorate the tree canopy in the woods on summer nights. I enjoy listening to the rhythmic calls of the peepers evolve to the bellows of bull frogs as the season passes,” reflects Andrew Cassilly.
It was an easy decision for siblings Veronica “Roni” Cassilly and Andrew Cassilly, along with their families, to donate conservation easements on their neighboring properties in Darlington.Roni says, “We wanted to ensure that generations to come can find the peace and joy that we have received from this property.”
Andrew and Amy Cassilly were blessed to make their home on Deths Ford Road 29 years ago. Andrew’s sister Roni purchased an adjoining property on Harmony Church Road the next year and later built her home with Carey Marzicola there. Collectively the two properties total 17 acres.
The properties are mostly forested, providing important buffers to Graveyard Run, a tributary of Deer Creek. Roni also keeps goats on the property, which she uses to manage invasive species.
The land has helped to shape the Cassilly family’s lives and values. Both Andrew and Roni recognize how lucky they are to have grown up roaming the Harford countryside.Andrew reflects, “In my youth, I could walk the rocky shores of the bay during low tide and not see another soul. I could launch my canoe in Deer Creek and camp on the isolated islands off Havre de Grace.” He feels fortunate that his children had many of the same experiences but recognizes that our population is growing and the landscape is changing rapidly as a result.“Land preservation is our only hope of saving the things about our county that make it so special,” Andrew notes.
Roni feels strongly that people have an innate need to be connected to nature. She is worried that so many children are not spending time in the forests and streams.
The desire to share open space with future generations motivated the Cassillys to permanently preserve their properties with a donated conservation easement to the Harford Land Trust and Maryland Environmental Trust. Under the current zoning regulations, no additional houses could be built on the properties. But, as Roni notes, “You never know how and when the zoning codes will change.” The Cassillys want to ensure that the land remains open, regardless of future regulatory changes.
“As I reflect on the privileged life I have been blessed to live, my priorities have adjusted with age… I realize the most important thing I can leave my children is the open space they have come to know as home,” Andrew says.