By Allene Smith, Land Stewardship Coordinator
Each year land acquisition and stewardship folks from Michigan-based land conservancies gather to discuss emerging issues, shared challenges, useful resources, and more. This year’s gathering was organized by Little Forks Conservancy and held at Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens in Midland, MI.
After discussing the roles of organizational partnerships and various forms they can take, we spent time sharing ideas and philosophies around professional development in our field. We toured Whiting Forest with its Grounds Manager, Chuck Martin, including the property’s 1,400-foot canopy walk (super cool). Many thanks to Heart of the Lakes for hooking us up with lunch as well!
The remainder of the time was dedicated to a very hot topic in the conservation world: climate resiliency planning. Shaun Howard of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) presented their Resilient and Connected Landscapes project and discussed its origins and applications. Justin Heslinga of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan gave an overview of their recent analysis of land protection priorities in their service area, including how TNC’s data impacted those results.
It is a testament to their value that these peer gatherings continue to remain a priority for those who have attended throughout the years, while also serving those new to the Michigan conservation community. This annual touchpoint allows opportunities to stay current and innovative in our approach to land conservation and everything that goes along with it. It allows opportunities to generate new ideas based on the shared experiences of others working toward conservation in the places they call home. Above all, this group provides a sounding board of trusted peers, and a feeling that none of us are alone in this work!
Present were staff from:
Chippewa Watershed Conservancy
Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy
HeadWaters Land Conservancy
Heart of the Lakes
Land Conservancy of West Michigan
Land Trust Alliance
Legacy Land Conservancy
Little Forks Conservancy
Little Traverse Conservancy
Six Rivers Land Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy
Walloon Lake Trust and Conservancy