Creating a Stewardship Community

As a member and active participant in the local, regional and national land conservation community, Mohonk Preserve has seen many of our colleague organizations struggle to steward the lands under their protection.

With the Preserve’s legacy of over half a century of stewardship experience, we found ourselves increasingly sought out to provide guidance to our colleagues.

Recognizing the need for a sustained group focus on stewardship, Mohonk Preserve received grants from the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation and the New York Conservation Partnership Program/Land Trust Alliance to increase the capacity of land trusts in New York to better steward the open spaces in their care. These grant funds have enabled the Preserve to review existing land trust stewardship and natural area management training models, and convene a series of peer-exchange meetings and site demonstration field outings with leading land trusts in the Hudson Valley region.

Grant funding also enabled the Preserve and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust to launch a pilot program to share stewardship services surrounding the Preserve’s Giant’s Ledges pocket park, the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail trestle and Wallkill Valley Land Trust’s Joppenbergh Mountain. This model may prove useful to other land trusts if appropriate levels of funding, staff and volunteers are available.

Throughout this project, our team has noted that most land trusts, regardless of size, are experiencing the same stewardship challenges. The predominant concern is the continuing lack of appropriate funds for the growing long-term costs of land stewardship following acquisition. Land trusts often work diligently to raise funds to protect important open spaces through conservation easements or purchase, only to realize that they have to struggle to fund the necessary and ongoing work of land management, which may include complicated issues of public access, ecological monitoring/treatments, vandalism, littering and trespass, and other legal challenges, all at substantial and ever-growing cost.

In 2015, Mohonk Preserve Executive Director Glenn Hoagland joined the Land Trust Alliance’s National Leadership Council and presented the Preserve’s model of integrated natural area management at a retreat of the nation’s leading 50 land trusts in Santa Cruz, California.

Mohonk Preserve continues to embrace our expanding role as a leader in stewardship by sharing our expertise and seeking solutions to help make stewardship services more accessible to all conservationists.