Striking a note for conservation

December 2, 2009

Critically acclaimed pianist Jean Stell, who has dazzled audiences throughout the United States and Europe, chose the Land Conservancy to permanently preserve an oasis close to home.

Stell, who lives in Rocky River and has performed with such powerhouses as the Boston Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra, granted the Land Conservancy a conservation easement that will protect her 78-acre, heavily wooded plot in Ashland County. Stell and her late husband, Ed, purchased the property as a vacation home in the 1970s, and the pianist wanted to work with a local conservation group that shared her passion for the land.

“Some (groups) can be too impersonal,” said Stell, a noted pianist, teacher and founding board member of the Rocky River Chamber Music Society. “I was impressed that the Land Conservancy had the staffing to follow up and make sure everything is done right. I also like the strategy of trying to protect this entire network of land across the region.”

She said she wishes everyone in the region had the same access to parks that she does. “I love the (Cleveland) Metroparks, and I think Cleveland is a great city,” Stell said.

Stell’s vacation home in Ruggles Township has mature forests, a shimmering 10-acre lake and a wetlands area. The property has more than 115 different plant and tree species, contains several headwater tributaries to the Vermilion River and is teeming with wildlife. “I wanted a place where the animals can live and the green space is preserved. That is important to me,” she said.