I should have been a realtor, an environmental realtor, if there is such a title.  When I worked for the fish and wildlife department in an office building with many ologists — fish experts, wildlife managers, habitat reviewers who tried desperately to slow down the simplification and fragmentation of land.  In a tucked away office, there was one person who job was to buy land.  Purchasing a piece of the earth for fish and wildlife.  That’s the job I would love.  It is a noble pursuit, being a permanent natural conservator.

If you have a thought to be a land steward then start the acquisition process now.  Saving land spins inspiring stories, and is akin to a treasure hunt with the gold being the sun shining on a daily view of swirling meadow grasses, varied thrushes’s fluting their way through the oak forest, clean water, and good intact, working soil.


1.  Look for a spot that needs some R & R — renewal and restoration.  Even here in the Columbia Gorge, there are few pristine lands.  Instead, there will be a forest that has seen the saw, acres of cheat-grass, a stream with an old tire or two.

2.  Bigger is better:  The more land you can buy, the more that can be conserved.  Buying with others can ensure shared responsibility, the establishment of wildlife corridors and conservation easements.

3.  Bad weather:  Seek out property when conditions are that their worse.  (The best deals can be made due to extreme climatic conditions).  If you are chilled by winter snow, then visiting your prospective property in a snowstorm will test your propensity for frozen pipes, treacherous unplowed roads, your affinity for XX skiing to reach a destination.  If summer heat shrivels your pores, then sit in the open sun during mid-August and if you don’t mind frying, then perhaps you’ve found a home.

4.  Take time:  Land looking should be a slow simmer rather than a full-stream ahead process. Patience, attention to details and investigation all come into play.  You don’t want to sign a land constract only to learn that some one else owns the mineral or logging rights to your land.  Time is needed for many visits, for a picnic, for an overnight under the stars, for finding the parcel’s four corners.  Buying land has a lot to do with feelings.  so, getting a sense of your new place requires sitting and waiting, marveling, and coming to a certainty that this place needs you and you need this place. ~