Today, Potomac Conservancy team member Tracy Lind writes in about the conservation work she and her team pursues each day. With conservation experience in Alaska and the Lower Shore of Maryland, Tracy joined the Conservancy in November 2013 as our new Stewardship Specialist.
Theodore Roosevelt wisely said, “Conservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”
Joining Potomac Conservancy last fall as a Stewardship Specialist, I became a part of our “Lands Team,” working on the ground each day with private landowners to sustain healthy waterways, forests, open spaces, and well-managed, family farmlands.
It’s exciting to be a part of a team here at the Conservancy that understands natural resources must be utilized in order for all of us to live, but like Teddy, we also understand that they must be utilized effectively and efficiently.
That’s why we advance our mission by working to preserve large tracts of forested lands, and restore stream health through improved land-use practices. We also work to prevent unsustainable urban sprawl – pockets of developments that are constructed in the midst of open land – through the creation of conservation corridors and hubs. These hubs are created when adjoining properties are permanently protected by a conservation easement, and typically come about through strategic neighbor-to-neighbor outreach.
Just last fall, the Conservancy and five landowners created a 608-acre hub in Frederick County, VA – the largest tract of continuous land under easement in the county! This recent success is part of our larger conservation program, protecting more than 13,100 acres of streamside and forested land in the region.
Your Lands Team
I am one of three members on Potomac Conservancy’s Lands Team. Jed Rau, our Land Protection Manager, is stationed with me in Winchester, Virginia. Jed reaches out to prospective landowners and works with them throughout the drafting process of a Conservation Easement. While Jed is seeking out new conservation opportunities, I ensure that our 70+ easement properties are being managed properly in my duty as the Stewardship Specialist. I also serve as a local resource for landowners interested in improving land-use through cattle fencing, riparian buffers, native plantings, and more.
Aimee Weldon, our Senior Director of Land Conservation, is based in Silver Spring, Maryland. Aimee is our all-knowing leader, directing our Conservation Easement programs and leads various projects in efforts to conserve and restore land in the Potomac headwaters. Together, we work closely in a shared quest for land conservation and a healthy Potomac watershed.
Each property is unique.
One of the best perks of my job is visiting with landowners and touring their easement properties regularly. One such property in Frederick County, Virginia is home to two pairs of Redheaded Woodpeckers, while another property has a Black Bear passing through periodically. A landowner in Shenandoah County, Virginia raises sheep and cows, including one cow that approaches visitors and rubs against you like a cat would. While visiting a forested property in Fort Valley, Virginia, I was able to see rich biodiversity, including watching a Cooper’s Hawk catch and eat a vole. While touring a farm in Hardy County, West Virginia, a landowner told me about coyotes visiting the property and we spotted two immature Bald Eagles flying overhead.
These annual monitoring visits provide wonderful reminders as to the importance of our work, our relationships with landowners, and the collaboration of our community.
Concerned landowners are what make our mission and job possible.
Members of our Conservation Easement community inspire us every day by their generous and deliberate act to protect critical lands bordering the Potomac, the Shenandoah and countless other local waterways. Some people conserve their land because of its link to their family and heritage, others are concerned with helping the environment, and some simply enjoy the flora and fauna that surrounds them. Regardless as to why they conserve their land, we are all grateful for their decision.
A Conservation Easements is a voluntary Deed in which landowners and Potomac Conservancy work together to formulate intentions for the land, suiting both the landowner and the conservation values. Together, our organization and the landowner ensure conservation values, such as water quality and wildlife habitat, are protected, and that their intentions and their legacy for their land remains in perpetuity.
To ensure compliance of the Deed, Potomac Conservancy monitors every one of our 70+ Conservation Easements annually. This is our chance to see the land we are protecting and experience what it has to offer, which often includes beautiful scenery, curious farm animals, and friendly and interesting landowners.
Luckily, we do not often experience violations, but if something prohibited by the contract is seen to occur on the property during monitoring, Potomac Conservancy works with the landowner to correct the problem. During these routine visits, we also record observations regarding invasive species, forest health, vegetation, and other land related issues. We are also a resource for landowners when it comes to land management. We are advocates of Best Management Practices (BMP’s), a term used to describe various ways of water pollution control, and are available to make helpful recommendations or to direct people to the appropriate professional.
If you have any questions regarding conservation, land management, or just want to say hello, we welcome you to reach us by phone or email. You can also learn more, by visiting potomac.org/lands.
Tracy Lind, Stewardship Specialist
Jed Rau, Land Protection Manager