Volunteer Conservation Easement Monitoring Training 2013
Saturday May 11, 8am – 3pm
Join the UVLT team of volunteers: become proficient in map and compass skills, using GPS tools, and “reading” the conservation landscape.
Here is what two of last year’s trainees had to say about why they chose to participate:
Elizabeth Traver – I love to walk in the woods anyway, I have been looking for ways to volunteer around the area, I figured I could learn something as well as learn more about places I can go for walks. Finally, I was looking for ways to meet some folks who might have similar interests.
Jim Barker – I (wanted to) improve my skills and knowledge.
Class size is limited to 12 and fills up early.
Conservation: Experience it!
Register today: contact Jason Berard 603-643-6626 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When David and Amy Cook signed the conservation easement to protect their farmland in Bradford last week, they joined over a hundred farm families who have worked with UVLT to conserve agricultural land. Here in the Upper Valley, UVLT has conserved more than 10,000 acres of working farmland. Our local accomplishments are notable nationwide.
Winsome Farm Organics of Piermont, NH displays a UVLT Conserved Lands sign.
Across the United States, land trusts have permanently protected 3 million acres of farm and ranch land. A recent study by the American Farmland Trust (AFT) found that a small number of land trusts did most of the work: 52 land trusts protected 95 percent of the land, and 55 land trusts hold 87 percent of the easements. UVLT ranked 29th and 13th respectively.
The Upper Valley’s farmland is some of the most fertile in the world. It’s a critical and irreplaceable resource that produces healthy, local food, provides livelihood and supports our region’s economy in many ways. We are glad for the many farmers, UVLT members and funders who help us do this important conservation work.
AFT’s report: A Nationwide Survey of Land Trusts that Protect Farm and Ranch Land and a summary of these and other key findings is available at www.farmlandinfo.org
The Cook Farm, located just north of town along Upper Plain Rd, in Bradford, VT, has been a labor of love for David and Amy Cook for the past 15 years. Now quite a diverse agricultural operation, the Cook Farm currently includes goats, pigs, chickens, vegetables. Dave and Amy have acquired this 70+ acre farm in phases, beginning in the summer of 1997 they rented 1.6± acres, which included the house and barns and a bit of the adjacent farmland. At that time, the rest of the surrounding farmland was rented to local farmers. Easing into small scale farming, they began by raising livestock including sheep and heifers. Amy was also beginning her veterinary career at the time. By 1999, they were able to purchase the 1.6± acres and immediately began making improvements to the existing structures on this small parcel; finally, in 2003 they purchased the surrounding 70± acres.
Through the process of conserving this property, the Cooks learned that their land has been farmed, more or less in its current configuration, at least since the early 1800’s back to John H. Sawyer who was likely of the Sawyer Family for whom Sawyer’s Ledges and Sawyer’s Cemetery is named.
Close to a third of the land is farmland with nearly all of the farmed open agricultural soils designated as prime and statewide significant soils. Most of the other two thirds of the property is forested containing signs of many species including deer, grey fox, black bear, bob cats, and turkeys. All of the forest west of the nearby power line, about 30± acres, is identified as deer wintering area by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife.
On Friday March 22, 2013, Dave and Amy signed the conservation easement documents with the Upper Valley Land Trust which permanently protect their land and its farming legacy. The Cooks will continue to grow and develop their farm products including plans for ongoing work to improve the fertility and productivity of the fields to support more animals as well as a focus on the long-term, sustainable growth of the forest.
Currently, Amy is working on breeding a highly disease resistant and robust meat goat as well as plans for future dairy goats and Dave is interested in doing more with fruits and vegetables. Their long term goal is to produce all of the family’s food on their 70-acre farm. Amy has also made goat’s milk soap and their surplus veggies have been sold at local farmer’s markets. Their meat is available seasonally.
When asked about his attitude toward land conservation prior to conserving his farm David Cook said, “I’ve been conservation minded but seeing the map of all of the conserved lands and farms in this area had a great impact. I love driving through here.”
The Cook’s property is in a corridor along the Connecticut River and Scenic Byway which has benefited from conservation efforts. Within just one mile there is over 688 acres of land conserved with the Upper Valley Land Trust, including the abutting property, Stonecliff Farm, and now the Cook Farm itself.
This project was supported by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) of Vermont. In addition, an Option to Purchase at Agricultural Value (OPAV) is held by the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, (VAAFM). The Bradford Conservation Commission paid for half of the Cook’s conservation easement appraisal through their Conservation Fund. The goal and intention is that the farmland always be available and affordable for farming.
UVLT has been awarded funding from the Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund (MEF) to permanently protect ecologically important wetland and riparian areas along the main stem of the Ompompanoosuc River in Thetford, Vermont. The MEF grant, together with a grant from the Thetford Conservation Commission, will allow UVLT to record and permanently steward a conservation easement on 37 acres of property owned by the Town along the East Branch of the Ompompanoosuc known as the Taylor Tract.
With 14 acres of wetlands and over two and half miles of river frontage, including one of the biggest remaining floodplain forest habitats in Vermont, the property attracts a multitude of bird species and provides critically needed habitat for the wood turtle, which has been spotted on the property and is a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Vermont. Last May, during and outing organized by the Thetford Conservation Commission, it only took a two-hour walk to identify 42 different bird species!
James Thaxton, Project Manager
This lesson is still in process as I find myself into the second month of the New Year and several months behind on my learning and sharing with you. My derrière, while thankfully tick-less, appears to me to be turning slightly square in shape, reflective of all of the time it has been sitting in my office chair.
Piles of piled things demanding my attention, the only visible nature is on my mouse pad.
This has GOT to change!
During and after the holidays I found myself swept along (by powers known and unknown) into the mire of last-minute-add-on-but-must-do-it-NOW type tasks. One of the things on this list was my final property visit and reports for 2012; and I wasn’t alone. Here in the UVLT office both Jason and Pete were working extra hard to ensure each one of our 444 protected properties had received its annual visit. What I didn’t realize was the work did not stop there!
For each property, one report is written but that report is duplicated at least three times, sometimes more. For any given property UVLT keeps a copy in our Archive File, protected in super high-tech theft/fire/flood/Godzilla (patent pending) proof filing cabinets; we make a copy for the Monitoring Folder for reference at next year’s visit; and we also scan a copy into our digital Archive Files. There is also the copy which we send to the landowner which can be digital, print, or both! In addition, someone writes a cover letter to the landowner highlighting certain aspects of the year’s visit and continuing the open channels of communication that are so important. Lastly, if there were any partners who helped conserve a particular property they each also could require additional writing & documentation, – phew!!
Don’t get me wrong, we are lucky to have a uniquely enthusiastic and responsible set of volunteers who are helping this happen each and every day – no joke! We will never be able to say ‘thank you’ long, loud, or big enough to cover all that they – you! – do for UVLT; but we’ll keep trying!
I’d rather be here…
I am sharing this with you because I learned an important lesson about my priorities. I was reminded that I didn’t only need to make time to do my visits out of responsibility or for my belief in and support of conservation; I needed to do it for ME because, heck, I LIKE going outside and tromping around! It is always fun and it turns my eyes upward and outward – nurturing my sense of wonder and grounding my love for this place, my home, even deeper in myself.
Upon hearing of my reflection Jason reminded me of a John Ruskin quote, ‘The highest reward for a person’s work is not what they get for it, but what they become because of it.’
What is your reason to ‘do it for me’? Comment below or send me an email!
Programs Coordinator, Volunteer Monitor
Interested in becoming a volunteer monitor? Contact us! Or register for our upcoming Volunteer Monitoring Training May 11, 2013 by clicking here.
Read my previous Lessons here.
It is easy to stay at a job you love, especially if there are lots of people helping you do it. When I was asked to list some of my favorite milestones from my years of work at UVLT, a wealth of memories rushed in, some of them intensely personal, many broadly shared. I have been mentored by UVLT’s marvelous Trustees, so many of them. And I have been lucky to work with smart, good-humored, hardworking and fun colleagues, inside UVLT and out. Their fingerprints are all over UVLT’s milestones and achievements.
I have been privileged to witness and be close to acts of amazing generosity and courage decisions between generations in a family, commitments between neighbors, people stepping into roles they never planned to take on, taking big risks, learning, becoming leaders, building community. These powerful experiences sustain and inspire me.
Has it really been 25 years? I look back and I see UVLT growing and changing with the community, taking its part in the future, helping the Upper Valley make its future. When I think about how much has happened and how ready we are, perpetuity takes on a whole new meaning.
What’s your favorite experience with UVLT? Are there UVLT accomplishments of which you are particularly proud? Here are some of mine:
~ Attending my first Land Trust Alliance rally (1988) which was held at a YMCA in Estes Park Colorado. My roommate was Lilla McLane-Bradley. ~ UVLT’s first publication committee was Dana Meadows, Noel Perrin and John Karol. I couldn’t have had better editors and I LOVED sitting with them to talk about writing. ~ Ribbon cutting with Governor Howard Dean at Farrell Farm in Norwich, one of the rare places in Vermont where farmland has been conserved and affordable housing units (16 single family homes) have been built. Lois McGean and June Hemberger led their community to make this happen. ~ Canoeing from Newbury to Bradford and picnicking at Bailey’s Eddy on a UVLT staff field day with Tim Traver, Dick Hodge, Linda Wilson and Bill Bridge. ~ The first time I monitored a conservation easement — Starr Hill with Laurel Letter. Afterward, we went back to her home and had a cup of coffee. She was so kind, generous, inspired (and inspiring). ~ The silent auction to help the Town of Lyme acquire the land at Trout Pond — so many townspeople contributed goods and services, so creative and fun. ~ Writing and publishing a guidebook to help Vermont communities conduct natural resource inventories. A few years later, helping UNH Cooperative Extension adapt it into a New Hampshire version and slideshow introduction. ~ We moved UVLT’s office from the Montshire Museum to 19 Buck Road, in a snowstorm, December, 1995. My parents rented a U-haul truck and joined with other volunteers to help us pack up and move in. ~ Working with Jean Daley, Doug Teschner and others from Piermont and Warren, UVLT was the local partner helping the Trust for Public Land raise money and advocate for 5000 acres at Lake Tarleton to be added to the White Mountain National Forest. Hiking up Piermont Mountain for a fundraising picnic with Frances Murray (who carried her dog in a little bag the whole way). ~ Jim Ashley decided there should be a public trail across his property to the top of Patterson Mountain. Forester Paul Harwood and students from the Mountain School constructed the trail and created an interpretive brochure. Over a hundred people came to the trail dedication and honored Sally Drew, for whom the trail is named. ~ When my daughter (then 13 or so) stopped asking “is that place conserved?” and instead said, “why isn’t that place conserved?” ~ UVLT was the first non governmental agency in the country to be granted USDA funding to purchase a conservation easement. NRCS staff came from Washington to celebrate the closing and made a TV promo about it. ~ “The First Cutting,” a celebration and demonstration of hay harvesting with horsedrawn equipment – hundreds of people on the meadow below Alpenglo Farm in Newbury, teams of horses, old-timers telling stories. ~ The successful fundraising campaign to raise 1.2M to acquire the Mink Brook Natural Area within six weeks led by Bob Norman, Charlotte Faulkner and Lilla McLane-Bradley. ~ Conserving Maple Lane Farm in Chelsea — home of the Organic Cow — one of the first grass-based organic dairies to be conserved with funding from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. ~ Establishing the Patchen Miller Award and Internship to always remember and be inspired by a friend and teacher we lost too soon. ~ Receiving a grant from the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (an international grant) to conserve Connecticut River shoreland. Buying the land at Hewes Brook, removing the mobile home that was there, and cleaning the site (we filled a huge dumpster) and establishing a parking area and carry-in launch for canoes and kayaks. ~ In February 1995 “Voices from the Land,” Linda Wilson invited local authors to read from their work. We gathered at the Friends Meeting House weekly for a month and listened, rapt and reflective. ~ Nate Merrill conducted outreach to about a dozen farmland owners in Orford, Piermont and Haverhill and sought state and federal funding for his “Connecticut River Farmland Initiative.” His work led to the protection of some of our region’s best agricultural land. ~ When we outgrew our Buck Road office space we convened a small group of long time supporters and asked them whether they thought a capital campaign to expand and renovate made sense, or if we should sell the property and move. They didn’t hesitate that afternoon — they told us permanent, functional space would make UVLT stronger. (They were right, our campaign was a success and we love our work space.) ~ Signing the easement on the first parcel of land to be protected at Wright’s Mountain in Bradford. Cheering for Nancy Jones and her fellow conservation commissioners as they’ve added so much more land, built trails and knit the whole endeavor into the fabric of the community and Oxbow High School. ~ Dancing with hundreds of other non profit colleagues in January 2009 at the “Brick by Brick” celebration on inauguration night. Nora Doyle-Burr gets a lot of the credit for taking a simple suggestion and turning it into a party that brought together and strengthened our sector — and was a heck of a lot of fun! ~ All the conserved lands signs along the route of the 50-mile Prouty bike ride for cancer research and treatment. ~ The outpouring of support for the Zebedee Wetlands. Watching the kids of Thetford lead the way. Dedicating the trail to Linny Levin. ~ Conserving the land now known as the Jackson Conservation Area, where residents of Lebanon’s downtown neighborhoods can walk at night and see the stars. Partnering with AVA to offer Art in the Wild camp for elementary school children there. ~ The “Founder’s Day” celebration at the Ramsden’s on Breck Hill Road, honoring and thanking the people who acted to create UVLT and the 25 years of conservation achievement that have followed. ~ The ’Hands on the Land’ piano — art speaks (or sings!) ~ Curriculum for volunteer naturalist training, 15 “graduates” summer 2012. ~ Watching the children of UVLT staffers grow and participate in this work of community. Peg’s son has taken marvelous and very professional photos and videos for us. Her daughter donated handmade items to our silent auction. Jason’s children – and Peg’s too — helped paint the piano. James’s kids, and Amber’s, are at home at UVLT’s office giving us all tons of joy and actively contributing to the future we are all making together.
P.S. Have a favorite memory of UVLT or an accomplishment you’d wish to share? Email us!
When I first learned that UVLT Trustees were planning a party to celebrate the fact that I’ve been at UVLT for 25 years, I was, well… embarrassed. It’s not just that the spotlight feels awkward (the many people who have been my mentors and advisors over the years deserve credit for their patience and their leadership), it’s also that my service to UVLT is both fun and deeply rewarding. I feel lucky to be employed at something I love – sticking around for 25 years seems logical, not laudable.
Writer, naturalist and activist Janisse Ray is author of four books of literary nonfiction and a collection of nature poetry. Image courtesy of http://janisseray.weebly.com.
Three things are helping me get comfortable with the hoopla.
1) Writer, naturalist, advocate Janisse Ray is coming from her home in Georgia to speak at our afternoon reception! When I was asked who I would like to invite for this role, I suggested Janisse Ray immediately because I’ve loved her books and essays. I heard her speak at a national land trust event several years ago and was struck by her passion and compassion, the beauty of her writing, her deep love of place and people. To be able to introduce her to the Upper Valley community is an honor for UVLT and I am looking forward to it very much. If you haven’t yet – get yourselves over to the Norwich Bookstore and buy at least one of her books. Read it and share it. Come and meet her. I promise you won’t regret it.
2) All funds raised through ticket sales and activities at the dinner will help UVLT conserve more land. As proud as I am of everything UVLT has accomplished, I think we all know that the real challenges lie ahead. There are many special places that remain unprotected and at risk. To meet the conservation challenges of the future will require capital – and this event will help us build our funds.
3) UVLT celebrations are always fun. Nowhere else is convened such a dedicated, visionary, generous, smart and creative group of people. Over the past several weeks, I’ve received many kind notes from dear friends and watched the RSVP list grow. What an amazing community this is! I know January 15th will be chockfull of camaraderie, inspiration, good memories and hilarity.
Upper Valley people chose to have a land trust and then they made it grow and thrive. I came home in 1987 to re-find a story I knew in my heart and now see unfolding in the landscape around me.
I truly look forward to seeing you on January 15 and working with you in the months and years ahead.
The Honorary Committee Invite You to Celebrate 25 Years of Service & Stewardship
by Jeanie McIntyre
Tuesday January 15, 2013
Dowds’ Country Inn ~ Lyme, New Hampshire
8:15pm Benefit Auction for the Jeanie McIntyre Conservation Capital Campaign
Conservation capital is critically important to UVLT projects today and in the future. Increasingly, the Upper Valley must meet its conservation funding needs from within. The campaign in honor of Jeanie’s 25th will build our Conservation Fund so we can keep delivering on our land conservation mission.
Space is limited! RSVP by January 11, 2013 for seats at the Afternoon Program featuring Janisse Ray.
RSVP to Lorie Hood at email@example.com or 603-643-6626.
The Afternoon Program runs from 4 to 5:30pm and features remarks by writer, naturalist, and activist, Janisse Ray. The cost of this program is $10 per person.
The Evening Program runs from 6:15 to 9pm and will include a reception, dinner, and benefit auction for the Jeanie McIntyre Conservation Capital Campaign. The cost of this program in $50 per person.
The Honorary Committee of Past Chairs of the Board of Trustees:
Donald A. Graham
Marion McCollom Hampton
We would like to thank the many supporters, volunteers, and contributors to the Linny Levin Trail. Yesterday nearly 100 people gathered to remember Linny Levin and celebrate her spirit as the newly improved trail was officially unveiled.
Our thanks extend to but aren’t limited to:
The Levin Family
Thetford Conservation Commission
Donors to the Linny Levin Memorial Fund
Donors to the Linny Levin Trail Fund
United Way Day of Caring volunteers
Thetford Elementary School
Tim & Phebe McKosker
Hugget’s Mini Mart
Wings Market & Deli
Michael & Mary Dan Pomeroy
Bob & Laura Pulaski
Connie & Frank Snyder
Kevin, Olivia, & Nate Brooker
Wednesday November 7, 2012
The morning started with an early txt. All it said was “brrrrr….” I checked the thermometer. 21 degrees. Brrrr indeed! After a couple of txt messages…it was decided to forge ahead. We had enough tools to chip ice if needed, and the ground wasn’t frozen solid…or so we hoped.
Jason, Kevin, and I met at the appointed time; we grumbled and groused a bit about the weather and then got to work. The main task for the day was to lay new stepping stones on the last on a soggy, muddy section of the Linny Levin Trail in anticipation of UVLT’s trail dedication ceremony on Saturday, November 17th at 1:00 pm.
We grabbed the rock bars. They were cold.Very cold. We headed out to do a quick assessment of how many stones would be needed. We had three good ones….but we needed four. So many other things at UVLT’s Linny Levin Trail have just fallen into place while planning and creating this trail, it shouldn’t have surprised me that there, a mere 10 feet away, was the perfect stone. Number 4. My favorite number.
So with bars, shovels, loppers, wheelbarrow, and mattock, we went to work in the mud. In no time we had set the stone, repacked the trail, sprinkled some leaves for good measure, and you may never know about the work that took place. However, I am sure that if you walk the trail at some point soon, you will feel the presence of Linny Levin, hear the joy (and silence) of the classes of children, and understand the reason we all treasure and value Zebedee Wetlands.
Join us on November 17th…..and explore again on your own!
Pete Helm, VP of Stewardship
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