I am thrilled to have recently celebrated my first year as the Senior Stewardship Program Manager with the Lowcountry Land Trust. The word “stewardship,” as used in my job title, broadly means caring for land in ways that ensure sustainability of conservation values. Essentially, once a conservation project transaction is recorded the stewardship work begins. For a land trust, stewardship word means monitoring and enforcing conservation easements; actively managing lands to encourage and sustain ecological heath and diversity; and engaging a community in activities that sustain the natural resources it values or on which it depends. What I love most about this work are the fundamental stewardship partnerships that are required.
Conservation easements are by far the most common land protection tool used by the Lowcountry Land Trust. In these situations, we are automatic stewardship partners with the landowners and managers of the easement protected properties. In a 2004 article published in the Land Trust Alliance’s magazine, Exchange, they state that the key ingredients in whether land is being responsibly cared for are the landowner and, to a lesser extent, the land trust, and their relationship to each other. Landowner partnerships are crucial to long-term stewardship success of all of our easement properties.
Another important stewardship partnership is with other conservation organizations and professionals in the region and country. For example, our staff actively promotes education on longleaf pine and serve on various task force groups and cooperatives, including the Sewee Longleaf Conservation Cooperative. We have partnered with The Longleaf Alliance, Clemson Extension, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, either on restoration of our preserves or in collaboration with our landowners. Several landowners of conservation easement properties have stated that they intend to, or have begun to, convert loblolly pine stands to longleaf pine forests because of these efforts.
The last essential stewardship partner is you—our constituents and supporters. Your commitment to Lowcountry Land Trust makes perpetual stewardship in the Lowcountry possible. Stewardship is only possible when it is championed by the community. We can’t do what we do without you.
Senior Stewardship Program Manager
Lowcountry Land Trust
Monday, September 28th: Stewardship Staff met to discuss closing out the monitoring season. To date, the Stew Crew has monitored 80.5% of protected properties.
Sam Seawell, Stewardship Associate, monitored the Keystone Tract, a 1682-acre property which LLT purchased in 2014 using funds from Boeing to offset wetland impacts from the expansion of its plant in North Charleston. LLT is actively restoring wetlands and longleaf pine habitat on the property. Keystone will eventually be transferred over to SCDNR, which will serve as the long term owners and managers of the property as a Heritage Property.
Tuesday, September 29th: LLT’s Board of Trustees met and approved a number of items, including an exciting upcoming land protection project that will involve the restoration of a half dozen stream miles that make up part of the headwaters of the Edisto River, flowing first through Four Holes Swamp.
David Ray, Acting CEO & Chief Conservation Officer, met with land trust executive directors throughout the Land Trust Alliance’s Southeast Region to trade notes and tips on how our respective organizations have been adapting and managing through the Covid-19 pandemic with regard to office life, protected properties, hiring, and community events.
Wednesday, September 30th: David Ray, Josh Bell, South Coast Project Manager, and Ashton Lamb, North Coast Project Manager, attended the virtual South Carolina Conservation Bank Board meeting. We’re pleased to announce that LLT was awarded two grants for land protection projects on the Savannah River and Black River, totaling $1,165,000. We look forward to keeping you informed as these projects proceed over the next several months.
Thursday, October 1st: At a U.S. House Agriculture Committee hearing—Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry, National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Acting Chief Norton committed to striking the problematic forest land eligibility language from the upcoming Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) funding application.
LLT was one of 27 organizations that signed a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Perdue requesting that NRCS consider striking the language, which could have prevented most forest land in America from enrolling in a program that’s intended in part to protect and restore forests.
Ashton Lamb participated in the virtual Tri-County Forestry Association meeting where Scott Danskin, a Forest Resource Analyst for the SC Forestry Commission, spoke about examining harvest and growth levels, land use change, and provided an update on our state and regional forest industry. If you are interested in joining future meetings, please contact Parker Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, October 2nd: David Ray convened with fellow South Carolina land trust colleagues in the Fall 2020 virtual SC Land Trust Network meeting, a collective effort to advance land conservation in the state. We are excited to welcome Jennifer Howard as the new Executive Director of the SCLTN!
LLT submitted a funding application to continue advancing, in tandem with other partners, its Johns Island Community Conservation Initiative.
News from the Hill: The America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives on October 1st, and is now headed to the President for signature. Among other important wildlife measures, the ACE Act reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), a critical conservation funding source in the Lowcountry, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, an important funder of wildlife and flood resilience efforts. We are appreciative of Rep. Joe Cunningham’s work to guide this important conservation legislation through the House Natural Resources Committee. Read the press release from our great partner Ducks Unlimited here.
Photo by Thomas Moorer, Edisto Island, SC.
[The President’s Log will feature a series of rotating guest writers, including LLT staff and board, as well as friends of Lowcountry Land Trust]
This edition of the Lowcountry Land Trust President’s Log is presented with support from Anderson Insurance Associates. Thank you!