At a September meeting of Hudson to Housatonic (H2H) Conservation Initiative partners, the group announced that it has become a regional conservation partnership (RCP). Originally funded by a two-year US Forest Service grant, H2H will continue operating as an informal network of people and organizations working to advance conservation and stewardship in Connecticut and New York.
“WLT staff and board are thrilled to be supporting this landscape scale collaboration,” said Kara Whelan, vice president at Westchester Land Trust, which is the co-lead H2H partner, along with Highstead. “As a regional land trust, we rely on the relationships that local conservation organizations have with landowners and H2H has already helped to strengthen those relationships at every level.”
As an RCP, H2H partners will continue to coordinate their work encouraging individual landowners to engage in conservation and stewardship activities. Workshops and events held across Connecticut and New York in 2015 helped H2H partners identify landowners’ areas of interest. That insight will now be used to develop additional programs and events tailored to specific conservation and stewardship issues.
“The work being done by H2H partners will help landowners protect and improve both their property and the larger community around them,” said Bill Labich, senior conservationist at Highstead, a co-lead partner of H2H. “By learning about landowners’ concerns and providing them with sound resources, we can drive action that leads to on-the-ground land protection and stewardship efforts.”
Some areas of landowner interest identified in the 2015 events include lake water quality and edge buffers, habitat connectivity, pollinator habitat, and riparian protection and restoration.
“H2H partners are learning more about what landowners in our region truly care about when it comes to their land,” said Kara Whelan, vice president at Westchester Land Trust. “We are working to advance meaningful land conservation and stewardship projects to protect our region’s most sensitive and important resources for generations to come.”
H2H will launch a website in spring 2016 featuring news, landowner resources, focus area map, partner list, and more.