Landowners make decisions today that will determine whether our region prospers tomorrow with well-planned growth, working family farms and protected natural areas or whether our region loses its legacy of beautiful river valleys, rolling green hills, prime soils and stunning scenery. The Land Conservancy is led by a group of dedicated trustees who are local landowners, business owners, and concerned citizens. Because of that leadership, and our respect for private property rights, our approach to land conservation is centered on landowners.
When we first talk with a landowner, the conversation revolves around his or her hopes and dreams for the land. We listen carefully as they share with us their family history with the land and how they have cared for their property, often for generations. We learn whether they would like to see the land preserved for future generations as a working farm, a natural area, wildlife habitat, scenic open space, or some combination of these things. We learn whether they intend to keep the land in the family, or whether they envision selling it in the future. As we learn about the relationship the landowner has with the land, we also learn about the land itself – and begin to form thoughts about its unique conservation values.
Initially, the Land Conservancy makes resource maps that may show the location of streams, forests, farm fields, buildings and other features of a site, both at the property-specific scale and at a scale that allows us to understand the regional context of the parcel. We have done extensive analysis on the natural, scenic and agricultural resources of the region, allowing us to quickly assess the significance of a particular property.
Land Conservancy staff members then walk the property with the owner, taking notes as on-the-ground observation and conversation reveals important aspects of the site. If needed, outside experts in biology will visit to get a more complete understanding of the property.
Once we understand a property and its conservation values, the Land Conservancy is able to meld that knowledge with our understanding of the landowner’s needs and wishes. We then craft a conservation proposal that meets those needs while also preserving the significant conservation values of the property. Our experts have created programs to meet the diverse needs of landowners.
In a region of more than four million acres, it is important that we prioritize our limited resources to protect the highest conservation value properties. In view of that, we’ve devised a sophisticated land protection strategy which combines the best science and mapping expertise with the best input from people with whom we have strong relationships across our region.
After we work together with a landowner to protect his or her land, our job is not over. In fact, it is just beginning. We have a responsibility to care for the land we protect forever. And we do. But land is not the only thing we value for the long haul. We also foster strong and lasting relationships with generations of landowners.