Part of the Land Trust Alliance’s immediate response to the pandemic was to help its members meet urgent and unprecedented challenges. And nearly 20 months later, that work continues. A recent case in point: We secured funding from The Carls Foundation to help seven Michigan land trusts address some of the more persistent effects of the pandemic.
These funds will be used in a variety of ways to accomplish different goals. Some land trusts are creating improved signage and outreach materials to better handle increased demand as more users discover their preserves. Meanwhile, another land trust is installing cameras to discourage vandalism, which has occasionally emerged as an unfortunate side effect of increased visits to preserves. The investment in cameras will hopefully reduce expensive cleanup costs.
There’s a demand for these funds to help address a mix of technical and practical challenges land trusts are facing. Some land trusts need a helping hand as they more firmly establish their work-from-home options or hybrid telecommuting arrangements. One land trust needs to digitize their land and stewardship records — and their grant money will help make that happen. And other land trusts are applying their funds toward continuing their public outreach efforts, sustaining their education programs and upping their social media game. By keeping their newest supporters engaged, these land trusts will see big benefits.
“Even after the pandemic is behind us, it will be years before the resulting economic, political and social upheaval is mended,” said Diana Kern, executive director for Legacy Land Conservancy. “It is not clear how this will impact our ability to compete for public and private funding. But one thing is clear: The link between land preservation and public health. Our efforts to protect and restore the land on which we live result in cleaner air, fresher water and abundant sources of food. Our nature preserves offer visitors safe places to walk, explore nature, bird watch, spend time with family and friends, and find tranquility outside, and nurture their physical and mental health, away from crowds and pandemics. Our work is vitally important; even ‘small’ gifts to advance our efforts make big differences in our continued sustainability.”