"Nelson Lebo is walking the walk," says Ausbon Sargent Lands Committee member Jeff Milne with admiration. "He saw an opportunity and he did it." Lebo, 33, is Ausbon Sargent's youngest conservation easement donor. The coordinator of Proctor Academy’s environmental program teaches earth science, environmental science, and watershed ecology, and has already compiled an impressive résumé as an author, a long-distance bicycle rider, and a role model for his students. Despite his many accomplishments, Lebo’s focus is not on himself, but on "the little critters."
Asked what motivated him to make his conservation easement donation, Lebo replies with conviction, "I owe something to the toads and the tree frogs, and the salamanders, and the turtles. Knowing that I can do something that will ensure a protected habitat… it’s one of the most significant things that I can do in my lifetime."
Lebo shares his East Andover property with spotted salamanders, American toads, barred owls, screech owls, bear cubs, moose, and coyote, among other species. Tilton Brook flows through on its way to Highland Lake, which can be seen from a spectacular vantage point on Lebo’s land.
Though only 37 acres, the Lebo easement provides a critical link between two abutting, larger tracts: the Bernhard easement to the east, and the Newman easement to the west. Together with other nearby easements, the property is part of a much larger ecosystem and wildlife habitat area, composed of more than a thousand acres of protected lands.
The easement also enhances protection for a Boy Scout trail that winds between Lebo’s property and the Newman easement before ending up at a waterfall, and for Old College Road, which has been designated "scenic" by the Town of Andover. "Now both sides of the road are covered," Lebo says.
Charlie Darling of the Andover Conservation Commission hails the donation because there are other easements nearby. "It’s one challenge to get easements," Darling says, "but a larger, town-wide goal is to get these parcels linked up. We’re particularly pleased that Lebo’s easement abuts two other protected properties."
Mary and Leon Malan purchased the Lebo easement in September of 2008.