FLT is in the business of taking care of land forever. When landowners place conservation restrictions on their land with us, we are responsible for visiting the property annually and enforcing the terms of the restriction forever. FLT currently holds over 130 conservation restrictions. Monitoring this many restrictions requires a serious commitment of staff and volunteers.
FLT also cares for five properties that were gifted to us over the years. We build and maintain trails, cut hayfields, monitor and treat invasive plants and insects, and occasionally harvest timber in conjunction with a long term forestry plan.
Many of us think of conservation as a log of properties and acres conserved or a series of blocks and corridors of open space on a map. However, this is really just the starting point of a responsibility, indeed a legal obligation on the part of FLT, to protect the natural resources found on each property, forever.
This responsibility is the role of FLT’s Land Stewards and it is met by conducting the following activities. First, a baseline report of the conserved property is done to record the natural resources on the conserved property, the property’s boundaries and any preexisting conditions found on the property. Next is the annual monitoring that is done to make sure that the restriction’s restricted uses are adhered to. During this process FLT works hard to maintain good working relationships with landowners associated with the restriction. These can include the original grantor of the restriction, a new landowner or even an abutter. In rare cases Land Stewards must work with landowners to enforce and resolve any violations of the terms within the restriction. Finally, it is important to maintain accurate records of all stewardship activity on all conserved properties.
In addition to monitoring our restrictions, FLT Land Stewards also help answer landowner questions concerning the resources on their property as well as the management of those resources. In many cases our knowledgeable staff can address a broad spectrum of management questions but our staff can also be helpful in finding answers to landowner questions due to the large network of resource professionals that the stewardship staff works with.
The Land Stewardship staff at FLT is also charged with the management of our Conservation Areas. This is an opportunity to show the public what land management looks like. It can include logging with best management practices, habitat management for a targeted species or the construction of a trail system with interpretive signs that highlight land use and natural histories found on a property.
Funding of Stewardship is done through a myriad of sources. At the time of negotiating a restriction FLT asks the grantor for a stewardship gift. However, not all of FLT’s grantors can afford such a gift after they have just donated a considerable asset. FLT would never want to turn down the conservation of a significant resource because of the inability of a grantor to pay so FLT makes up the difference through grants and the generosity of its members and donors to maintain this very important financial obligation.