I am pleased to provide this summary of land stewardship workshops undertaken by Mohonk Preserve with incredible support of many of you over the last thirteen months. When we take time to gather and share information, I am reminded of a few things. First, the knowledge, commitment, and effectiveness of the land trust community in our region is indeed impressive. Second, we all benefit by pausing to compare our knowledge and expertise. Finally, following each of the workshops, many of us participated in short hikes to nearby natural areas. These outings served as practical demonstrations of stewardship in action and showcased some of our respective protected properties. The beauty and variety of these places help to define the essence of the Hudson Valley and provide natural respite under our stewardship for years to come.
The project received initial encouragement and guidance from Bob Canace, Program Officer – Land Conservation & Scouts, with the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation (PCLB) and Ethan Winter, New York Senior Program Manager for Land Trust Alliance. Both recognized the need to advance collaborative thinking on best practices to address the common, nitty gritty problems of sustainably managing and funding land protection and stewardship. A 2014 PCLB grant enabled the Preserve to conduct exploratory research and to convene focus groups with key conservation and stewardship professionals from Hudson Valley area land trusts. In 2015 a grant from the New York State Conservation Partnership (NYSCPP) through the Land Trust Alliance enabled us to leverage the seminal PCLB funding and implement the peer exchange workshop series.
The five workshops held as part of this project provided professionals and volunteers from land trusts from the Hudson Valley and Tri-State Area with opportunities to discuss hot button issues in land stewardship, including balancing public use with land protection, using ecological science to advance our work, best practices of conservation easement management, stewardship funding, and legal conservation defense.
I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues who served as panelists and participants. While we tried to structure the workshops to minimize the preparation time for the panelists, they clearly took time to organize very thoughtful presentations. I also want to thank my colleagues at the Columbia Land Conservancy, Scenic Hudson, Dutchess Land Conservancy, and the Hudson Highland Land Trusts for opening their offices and public spaces to host the workshops. Thank you, too, for providing some informative hikes at the end of each of the workshops that served to remind us why we do the work that we do.
Ours is a community that thrives not on competition, but on collaboration. We grow stronger when we work to together to improve our knowledge base and our skills. The land benefits when we share and use the latest thinking and techniques. The public understands our mission better when we are capable stewards of the land. I hope this summary helps in continuing the conversations and learning that have taken place over the last two years and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to build this tradition in our local land trust community.
Click here to download the Land Stewardship Guide: Highlights of the Hudson Valley Stewardship Series.
Glenn Hoagland, President and CEO
Banner photo by Renee Zernitsky