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Board Adopts New Strategic Plan

Land and Community

This article originally appeared in our newsletter, Landmarks, Fall 2012

This summer the Land Trust Board adopted a new Strategic Plan to guide our work over the next three years. A few weeks later more than 80 people attended our first major event at Antonelli Pond, the first property we protected 30 years ago. At that event we honored Jeff Helmer for his 25 years of service as our Land Steward. These three things tell you all you need to know about the Land Trust: we protect land, we care for land, and we are a community of people engaged in these efforts.

The Board’s strategic planning process began in January with a review of the Conservation Blueprint – our 25-year vision for the protection of Santa Cruz County. And then we did what you have to do in planning: we set priorities for the next three years.

Our top priorities for the next few years are to complete the projects we launched in the past year: protect Star Creek Ranch in the Pajaro Hills and three properties in the Sandhills, complete the protection of the 8,500-acre North Coast redwoods forest formerly owned by CEMEX (and rename it!), and raise the $13.5 million in local funds we need to save more than 10,000 acres.

That list is a tall order, but it is not all we plan to do over the next three years. The Board set detailed goals for land protection, stewardship, and community engagement.

Land Protection. In addition to completing the protection of the CEMEX Redwoods forest, our land protection work will focus on the farmlands of the Pajaro Valley and the Pajaro Hills. Our goal is to have protected 5,000 acres of land in the Pajaro Valley and Hills by the end of 2015 – mostly, we hope, through voluntary conservation easements with landowners.

Stewardship. Three years ago the Board set a goal of becoming model stewards of the land under our care. At that time that meant caring for 3,200 acres. Once the former CEMEX forest and Star Creek Ranch are protected it will mean caring for 13,000 acres (along with our partners). Half of our annual operating budget now goes to stewardship, a 150% increase over the past three years.

Community Engagement. The new Strategic Plan calls for a major increase in our engagement with the community we are here to serve. That will mean more events like the celebration at Antonelli Pond, our Blueprint and CEMEX forums, the Chris Wilmers talk on mountain lions, and walks like the ones this summer at the Watsonville Slough Farm and the Byrne-Milliron Forest. It will also mean more engagement through our website and Facebook – where you can get a better look at how we are building the conservation future. We want you involved in what we do and are working to create a variety of ways you can do that.

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