In our Fall/Winter newsletter, Sally wrote about Hilltown Land Trust’s upcoming workshops to facilitate local dialogue about conservation. Having not held events quite like this in the past, we weren’t sure how many people to expect.
This winter, we held two public events: in Goshen and Shelburne Falls. Over 70 town leaders, landowners, foresters, students, and conservation professionals gathered to network and hear presentations from foresters, Open Space Committee members, and conservation professionals.
Perhaps the best part of both events were the small group conversations following the presentations. From the volume in the room, you could tell these discussions produced lively and needed dialogue.
People left with new resources and contacts, and a renewed commitment to conservation. One attendee reported plans to volunteer for their town’s Open Space Committee, realizing “I have a ton of useful skills for my town.” Others voiced plans to consult with foresters or pursue collaboration with neighboring towns.
Our third event, originally scheduled for March in Huntington, has turned into a series of free online webinars. Topics include pollinators, solar array bylaws, vernal pools, active open space committees, and forest carbon.
Many people are eager to learn how they can help protect open space in their communities, and there is clearly much that we can learn from each other. Perhaps the biggest take-away for HLT is that we need to host more events like this, both virtual and in-person!
This effort is funded by the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Working Forests Initiative with support from UMass Extension Service and Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust. The ultimate goal is to encourage family forest owners to pursue conservation-based options for their land.