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    July 29, 2019

    Stewardship’s crucial role in land conservation

    Jim Reed

    Permanent preservation of land is not accomplished with the stroke of a pen. Once a property officially becomes a Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust sanctuary, it requires stewardship . . . careful monitoring and management . . . forever. We are deeply grateful for your support of this crucial part of our work, and you can be proud of how you’re keeping the wildlife you love safe. As we honor our commitment to each protected land, we comply with IRS regulations for stewardship and follow Standards and Practices established by the Land Trust Alliance, as well as the Trust’s own Comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures.

    But here’s a closer look at what our humane stewardship means in three dimensions, out on the lands you protect. Our stewardship staff, qualified contractors and trained volunteers monitor all protected sanctuaries through a variety of means. When walking a property’s external boundaries, we check for signs of trespass, human encroachment, hunting, trapping, misuse or overuse, vandalism, safety hazards or other issues. We also ensure sanctuaries remain posted against hunting and trapping and that signage is maintained in accordance with state and local laws. We visually inspect significant access points noted on the survey of the property, such as logging roads and snowmobile trails; check for tree stands, bait sites or other violations and review any known problem areas.

    On properties protected by conservation easements we place extra emphasis on monitoring for changes to roads and other infrastructure, as well as buildings, while also cultivating helpful relationships with landowners. Stewardship staff members take action to rectify violations or other issues identified when monitoring our portfolio of protected properties. And for all sanctuaries, we maintain detailed inspection reports, documenting any new areas of concern with photographs and maps with GPS waypoints. On lands donated to the Trust, we sometimes undertake specific actions to restore or enhance habitat for wildlife.

    The article about our Greenwood Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary in Lakeview, Oregon, highlights such work. On lands the Trust protects but does not own, our role is to ensure habitat actions that landowners undertake are within the terms of the conservation easement and encourage practices that enhance the property for wildlife. The Daisy Wildlife Sanctuary is a wonderful example of the care and hard work many conservation easement holders put into helping wildlife on their land. In some cases, though, when lands pass to new owners, stewardship staff may need to educate and answer questions with owners about the legal restrictions that go with the land they have purchased to ensure the conservation easement is followed. Humane stewardship will always be a core Trust commitment . . . to the wildlife and habitat we protect . . . and to you, as we put your gifts to the Trust to work for wildlife.


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