The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility to cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”      

Wendell Berry in The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

In the last three decades, there has been a profusion of land acquisition and accompanying stewardship.  From a myriad of land trusts to regional governmental efforts such as in the Portland Metropolitan areas, people in the United States continue to support measures to conserve wild places, both by voting and through financial donations.

The Nature Conservancy probably has the largest stewardship program in the country with their Preserve Monitor and Stewardship Program.  Volunteer Preserve Stewards work closely with Conservancy staff to meet the stewardship goals for the preserve by maintaining trails, eradicating invasive species and planning preserve workdays.

Volunteer Preserve Monitors visit a preserve approximately six times per year, to assess the condition and needs of the preserve and report their findings back to the Volunteer Preserve Steward.

Washington State’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has created 51 Natural Area Preserves that protect outstanding examples of the state’s extraordinary diversity.  Volunteers serve a key role as stewards for natural areas and as links to local communities.  Large groups are often needed for restoration and trail building projects.  Individuals serve as site stewards, interpreters, data collectors or help in the office.  Stewards help in the protection of biodiversity and often gain a personal connection to these special places.  Information on becoming a steward is available through the nearest DNR Regional office.  Student internships for college credit may be available or can be developed to meet the needs of both the student and the natural areas program.

Finally, colleges such as Oregon State University offer Land Steward Training Programs to help local small-acreage landowners learn about ways to create a healthy environment on their property through classroom sessions, field trips and the creation of a personalized management plan for your property.  Land Stewards will be equipped to design and implement programs to help people:

*Identify and eradicate noxious weeds

*Promote and develop wildlife habitat

*Conserve water and reduce runoff

*Reduce yard waste and woody biomass

*Maintain healthy trees and forests       For infomation, contact Rhianna Simes at 541-776-7371, ext. 213.

Wendell Berry was correct in deeming land stewardship as “our most pleasing responsibility.”  With 50,000 acres being irretrievably lost to development every year in Washington State alone, the need for conservation land acquisition and stewardship has never been more pressing. ~