Marion, Joe and Carol Bruchac

Ndakinna Nature Preserve and Bucket Pond Conservation Easement

It’s always a pleasure visiting the Ndakinna Nature Preserve and Bucket Pond easements. Not only is Joe Bruchac always willing to share stories of the land and nature, but also blueberries, plums, and zucchinis fresh from his garden.

“My grandfather, Jesse Bullman, used to take me fishing on Bucket Pond when I was a boy; I grew up just 3 miles from here. It has always been a special place to my family.”

In 1993, the opportunity arose for Joe and his late wife Carol to purchase the property from a retired school teacher, who also recognized the raw beauty of the special place. Joe and Carol made the decision to ensure that Bucket Pond remained protected, and within a year had placed the land under a perpetual conservation easement with the Saratoga Land Conservancy (now Saratoga PLAN).

Carol, who spent 13 strong years battling cancer, found the property to be a safe and warm place for her and her family during that time. Joe describes the land as being a “blessing” and “haven” for them both.

“For us, it wasn’t even something to really think about, we just knew that it was the right choice.”

Today Joe, a well-known published author and storyteller, uses the property as a place to find peace and inspiration when writing.

A few years prior to conserving Bucket Pond, Joe’s mother, Marion Bruchac, placed land she owned under a conservation easement, officially becoming the Saratoga Land Conservancy’s first conserved property. Now over 20 years later, this land is home to the Ndakinna Education Center.

The land forming the now nature preserve has been in the Bruchac family for several generations, and when Marion’s husband passed away, she became interested in learning about what her options were for conserving the ~70 acres of land.

In the early 90s Marion went to a meeting about conservation easements, and after talking through the idea some, decided to conserve her family’s land forever.

Marion was overjoyed by the outcome. “She was so proud of it, because she really wanted it to be preserved.” Joe remembers. “My mother was always surprising,” he says with a smile, “and when she had her mind set on something, there was no stopping her.”

The Ndakinna Nature Preserve is now collectively owned by several members of the Bruchac family, with the land primarily being used for nature study and education via the Ndakinna Education Center. Jim Bruchac, Joe’s son, began programming at Ndakinna over 20 years ago, and now runs the center as a non-profit organization that hosts summer camps, and cultural events.

Ndakinna means “our land” in the native Abenaki language.