Taking care of the land for generations to come
This article originally appeared on the cover of our newsletter, Landmarks, Spring 2010
Nothing says stewardship like kids taking care of the land. This winter more than 120 volunteers, including dozens of kids, worked on Land Trust properties. Mostly they pulled invasive weeds – French broom, acacia, eucalyptus saplings – the kind of plants that if left alone for a generation would take over the native habitats we are protecting.
Most of these volunteers came to us through the Disney "give a day, get a Disney day pass" program which offered participants day passes to Disneyland in return for a day of volunteer work. They could have chosen all sorts of volunteer work to get their Disney passes, but they chose hard dirty work on the land and came despite the fact that it rained on most of our work days. We had plenty for them to do.
They were joined by our long-time Land Steward, Jeff Helmer, and our new Stewardship Manager, Lynn Overtree (pictured on page 5). Lynn's addition to our staff was one direct result of the Strategic Plan adopted by our Board last summer. That plan calls for the Land Trust to become "model stewards" of the 3,200 acres of land under our care.
You become model land stewards basically by devoting significant time and money to the job. We have established several endowments which generate stewardship funds. In addition, our Director of Conservation, Matt Freeman, has increased our efforts to secure stewardship grants from a variety of state and federal funders. This year we received our first farm leasing revenue from the Watsonville Slough farm lands we acquired last year. These funds are paying for a management plan for our slough properties and will help pay for restoration work both on our land and on adjacent federal and state protected lands.
Membership donations also contribute to our stewardship work, as they do to all aspects of our work. The past year was challenging for the Land Trust, as it was for most non-profits. Your steadfast support made it possible for us to hire Lynn, which in turn made it possible for these kids and their families to experience the joy of working on the land.
The details of these and other stewardship activities are on pages 4 and 5, but the heart of stewardship can be seen in the pictures above: we are taking care of the land for the next generation and nurturing the next generation of stewards. •
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