Stewardship….caring for the land….forever
Here at SLCS, the stewardship of conserved land is chief among our duties. Celebrating the completion of another conservation project is important, but signing the paperwork and cutting the ribbon is only the start of the land protection story! If you really want to protect land, it is imperative you have an effective stewardship program and the long-term commitment and financial resources to back it up.
Did you know that SLCS visits and walks around every property we own, and every property on which we hold a conservation easement? And we do it every year. These visits allow us to keep track of any changes on conserved lands and it ensures that any conservation easement is being upheld. In the conservation business, this process is called monitoring.
In order to monitor all properties, we rely on many volunteers. Monitoring visits entail walking the boundaries, roads, and trails on properties for which SLCS holds an easement or on properties owned by SLCS. Monitors collect information on these properties by observing the conditions of the land, location of buildings, previous or potential changes to land use, and boundary conditions.
SLSC’s volunteer monitors are all provided training which is provided periodically throughout the year. They typically dedicate a few hours for each property monitored. Most monitor one property, but some monitor up to nine! Other aspects of monitoring include:
- Keeping accurate and detailed reports of our inspections
- Responding to violations with appropriate action including mediation and/or litigation
- Consulting with other land trusts regarding standards and interpretation
Monitoring also serves as a regular reminder that a landowner is legally bound to adhere to the conditions defined in their conservation easement. As an easement passes down the line from the original donor (grantor) to subsequent property owners, regular monitoring reduces the risk that the newer owners might ignore or forget the terms of the easement.
We are all stewards. We are here for a short time, and then we are gone… And if you really think about it, as property owners, we don’t really own land….essentially we are borrowing, paying rent on it if you will, until we can pass it on to someone else. At SLCS, our goal is to ensure that when conserved land is passed on, it is done so with the same care and feel as was expected when it was originally conserved. That is our promise. Forever.