Nothing is quite as sweet in the conservation world as completing that land deal to protect a special habitat for generations to come. Whether it’s finalizing a conservation easement or the outright purchase of a piece of critical shoreline, wetland or intact forest, the news is met with much celebration and sense of satisfaction – that more land is protected into the future.
But acquiring the land is just the first step in conservation. The next step is making good on the commitment to keep the land in as good condition – or better – than it was when protected.
Good habitat stewardship is key so the plants and animals that depend on that piece of natural world will continue to thrive. Good stewardship may include restoration, such as removing shoreline armoring and non-native invasive plants, or replanting an old field with native trees and shrubs to recreate a once-existing forest or wet meadow. Often, good stewardship includes visiting a site to ensure that agreed-upon easement conditions are being adhered to, checking for encroachments, or picking up trash.
Dedicated Volunteers Make it All Happen
Capitol Land Trust relies on dedicated members to ensure that our protected lands remain in good condition. As more of the protected sites we manage become open with trails and facilities for the public, it will take more work to ensure that sensitive habitats are maintained and the “human footprint” isn’t having a negative effect on them.
That is why we are always looking for volunteers willing to spend some time and energy to visit and monitor our sites as stewards or occasional workers; to ensure that we are keeping our commitment to landowners and our community to be good stewards of the lands we manage.
Can I become a Volunteer Land Steward?
Yes! We’d love your help.
At the center of Capitol Land Trust’s mission is the perpetual stewardship of the properties we have conserved – into the future. We visit even our more remote properties at least once a year to document their condition, check for dumping and trespassing, and visit with neighbors. For private properties on which CLT holds a conservation easement, we also meet with the landowner to be sure they are fulfilling the terms of the conservation easement.
Volunteer Land Stewards are key to our long-term success. They monitor sites, usually with a CLT staff member. During annual monitoring visits, Land Stewards observe, take notes and photographs, and may act as guides. After visits, they fill out monitoring report forms that help us create final monitoring reports.
Land Stewards who live near or travel to a CLT-conserved property provide a critical service throughout the year by alerting CLT to any problems. Depending on the needs of the property and the volunteer, a Land Steward also may add visits and do other activities (such as removing invasive plants or organizing a volunteer work party). We match volunteer stewards with a property that fits their interests and physical abilities and (if possible) is near where they live or travel.
A Land Steward’s time commitment depends on the CLT property and the volunteer. An hour is needed prior to the monitoring visit to review the previous year’s report; part of a day is needed for the visit and an hour or so after to fill out the monitoring report form. Typically, new Land Stewards are trained during their first visit to their assigned property – or they may join a monitoring visit to another Land Steward’s property to observe the protocol.
The reward for being a Land Steward is that you get to visit unique and beautiful natural areas, farms, ranches, and timberlands – most not open to the public. You also know you are giving back to your community.
Call our office if you are interested in being a Land Steward and we will match you with a suitable property. Thank you to all of our current, and past, volunteer Land Stewards for your ongoing support towards our efforts to preserve natural and working lands in southwest Washington!
Reprinted with permission from Issue 62, Fall 2016, of the Capitol Land Trust News.
The Capitol Land Trust and Griffin Neighborhood Association created the Steamboat Conservation Partnership in order to conserve the natural areas that make the Eld and Totten Inlet watersheds so special. Click here to learn more about how you can support the efforts of this unique partnership. And click here to learn more about preserved habitat right here in the Griffin/Steamboat Peninsula area.