How partnership and preservation can change the landscape
For any land trust, preservation of the land is one of the most important goals. Protecting history, wildlife habitat, forests, open space, watersheds, and agricultural lands for the future is the foremost mission. For The Lebanon Valley Conservancy (TLVC), partnership has made preservation an easier conversation.
Three years ago, when we joined the newly formed Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, we were proud to be part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) vision to save the Bay. Today, the partnership has evolved beyond planting trees and has rooted relationships in our community.
Our first year, TLVC planted 500 trees on four of our preserved properties. The landowners were protecting their streams, tributaries of the Quittapahilla and Swatara Creeks, with trees.
Partnering with our easement owners helps to protect our investment and enhance the conservation values of the properties. With the help of local volunteers, Lebanon community members engaged in these environmental works and contributed to broader change.
As we moved to years two and three with the K10 partnership, I noticed that new landowners, with hundreds of acres of valuable lands with forest, streams, and open space, were interested in planting trees. We decided to use the partnership to generate discussions about preservation. Following up with them after the tree plantings gave us an opportunity to talk about easements and protection of the valuable ecological treasures on their properties.
Now, each spring and fall, landowners reach out to TLVC regarding the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership plantings. They share their stories of the land; show the streams and waterways they want to protect and feel inspired to be part of protecting the watershed. During this conversation, TLVC can talk with landowners about permanent protection with conservation easements, ensuring their investment in perpetuity and preserving the conservation values of the land.
A local church camp in Lebanon County is a wonderful example of this partnership in action. CBF helped to connect the camp with TLVC for spring plantings this year.
On our first visit with camp staff, we talked about trees protecting the Little Swatara Creek that runs through the property. We mapped a plan for the riparian areas and created a plan for how to get hundreds of trees planted this spring. We discussed the K10 Partnership and how the program can help save the Bay.
TLVC had the opportunity for a follow up meeting, which highlighted these important conservation areas and talked more specifically about preservation for the future. This is the third time that a tree planting has yielded a conversation about land preservation, and we are hopeful for more.
Partnership tree plantings have become meaningful work at TLVC. It is our engagement tool for the community, helping us to find volunteers each year to participate in this important environmental project. It has built membership, raised awareness, and engaged new audiences.
It has been noticed by the local media, engaged local groups, and has been embraced by new landowners.
TLVC has planted trees on easement properties, at sportsman's clubs, the local VA Hospital, on business properties, in parks and public lands, at camps, and on private lands.
Locals are grateful for the opportunity to help save the Bay and do their part to protect our county watersheds.
The Lebanon Valley Conservancy is grateful for the gateway that the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership has provided for land protection work across Lebanon County.
—Laurie Crawford, Executive Director of The Lebanon Valley Conservancy
EDITOR'S NOTE: During a challenging year of pandemic restrictions and social distancing, the great volunteers and staff of The Lebanon Valley Conservancy planted an amazing 1,500 trees in 2020 as members of the Keystone 10 Million Tree Partnership.