Historic Hyde Farm Preserved (GA)

June 6, 2008
Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia, 6/06/2008:? Hyde Farm, a high-profile, historic property and one of the last working farms near Atlanta, will be protected and kept intact, The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization, announced today.

"Today, we've acquired the 95 remaining acres of the original Hyde Farm," said Helen Tapp, TPL's Georgia state director. "We've literally bought the farm, culminating an effort which began back in 1991. This is a wonderful day, and it is the result of a huge effort by a dedicated team of organizations and individuals. There is no better example anywhere in the country of TPL's mission to protect land for people."

The farm, located just northwest of Atlanta in east Cobb County, is little changed from the early 1900s. The Hyde family bought it in 1920 from the Power family, who originally settled there in a log cabin they built in the 1830s. The last Hyde to farm the property, J.C. Hyde, grew up there and farmed until he died in 2004. Even as suburbs and sprawl surrounded the property, Cobb County residents saw Mr. Hyde work the farm using a hand plow pulled by his stalwart mule, Nell. It was Hyde's wish that the farm be protected as it existed, and he began talking to TPL to make that happen.

In 1992, TPL bought an initial forty acres of the property along the Chattahoochee River, which were added to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. That deal also ensured J.C. Hyde the right to farm that land along the river for the rest of his life, and TPL was granted the right to buy the upland acreage if the farm was to be sold within the next twenty years. After J.C. Hyde's death in 2004, his heirs sued, seeking to end TPL's contractual right of first offer. But the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia upheld the agreement. TPL and the estate recently settled the suit, allowing TPL to buy the remaining 95 acres for $14,195,000.?

TPL will convey the land to Cobb County and the National Park Service under a joint and cooperative management plan for the site. The site is not open to the public now, but is expected to be open in late 2009.

George Hart, Co-Chairman of Friends of Hyde Farm, said, "We?are excited?for everyone in?Georgia,?but especially thrilled for those in Cobb County, who will have the unique opportunity to see and experience life of an 1800's homestead."

Sam Olens, Chairman of the Cobb County Commission, called the acquisition central to the?county's vision for creating parks and preserving green spaces. He said, "We are so appreciative of TPL's long commitment to help make Mr. Hyde's dream for this historic working property a reality. As an educational and recreational resource, this is precisely the kind of opportunity Cobb residents intended to capture when they overwhelmingly endorsed the county's?$40 million parks bond initiative in 2006. We look forward to partnering with the National Park Service and others to maintain this extraordinary place for generations of children and adults to learn from and enjoy."

U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., have worked to get funding for the National Park Service to acquire the property.

"Hyde Farm is a beautiful piece of land which has been continually farmed since the early 19th century and represents a significant moment in Georgia's rich agricultural history, said Isakson. "Protecting this extraordinary parcel of undeveloped land in suburban Atlanta allows us to preserve this important piece of history for future generations."

Chambliss said, "Hyde Farm is a true Georgia treasure and with the increasing development around the Atlanta area, it's only right we protect and preserve this special place. This land acquisition was successful because of the dedication of the many folks in Cobb County, The Trust for Public Land, and the Friends of Hyde Farm, who have been involved in protecting this green space for many years. It is due to their efforts that families will be able to enjoy this tremendous educational tool and recreational tool for generations to come, and I'm pleased to play a role in securing the funding for Hyde Farm."

Daniel Brown, superintendent of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, said, "The acquisition of the Hyde Farm property is extremely important for Chattahoochee River NRA and the public. It has been the park's number one acquisition priority for many years, and area residents have expressed tremendous support for its protection.? The area surrounding the Chattahoochee River has continued to grow and develop, and preserving this historic resource will enable the public to experience and enjoy this valuable part of the area's history.?We look forward to working with TPL, Cobb County and others to help make this happen."

Rand Wentworth, now president of the national Land Trust Alliance, was the TPL Georgia state director in 1991 who first began the project. He said, "Through the example of his life, J. C. Hyde taught us the virtues of humility, simplicity and love for the land. With the protection of this beautiful farm, the land itself will teach these lessons for generations to come."

The preservation of Hyde Farm is part of a larger effort to protect green space along the Chattahoochee River. A map of the Chattahoochee effort can be found at www.nps.gov/chat. Click on "view map" and Hyde Farm is near mile marker 312.

Since 1996, TPL, in partnership with government and other conservation-minded groups, has spearheaded the conservation of nearly 72 river miles of land, or over 15,200 acres, fronting on the Chattahoochee River between its headwaters north of Helen down to Columbus. TPL's commitment to the Chattahoochee program is ongoing; last year TPL completed three more land transactions along the river, including the uppermost privately held property in the headwaters area, protecting 148 acres along the river corridor. These purchases will provide additional access to natural areas, while creating natural buffers along the river that will help protect drinking water quality and preserve important wildlife habitat. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and business to achieve its land for people mission.