Issue Number 1
Thanks to all you folks who have shown interest in Sharing the Land, a Conservation Cooperative Network. This inaugural newsletter will provide the background and ideas behind Sharing the Land, feature our efforts to date, and highlight next steps and events. We plan to publish the newsletter six times per year. Please note that we will be combining the contact list from dougduren.com with this list, so if you signed up on both websites, you may get this newsletter twice.
What is Sharing the Land?
“Conservation will ultimately boil down to rewarding the private landowner who conserves the public interest.”
Aldo Leopold, Conservation Economics, The River of the Mother of God.
Sharing the Land recognizes the need for private land stewardship.
Sixty percent of all land in the United States is privately owned, and in parts of the country, as much as 95% of wildlife habitat, hunting and foraging ground is privately held. As a result, private landowners are key players in the success in all manner of conservation efforts. Thoughtful, active private land stewards develop a management plan for their property. Implementing that plan takes time, money and labor. A common refrain from landowners is “managing land is a lot of work.”
Sharing the Land also recognizes that access to private land has value. The value and increasing cost of owning rural land, changes to land ownership demographics, a growing population, leasing hunting rights and the increased interest in outdoor activities have made it more difficult for non-landowners to get permission to hunt, forage or recreate on private land by simply asking. Some landowners are reluctant to open their land or grant permission to just anyone who asks. But many are open to sharing their land with people that respect the land and who are willing to contribute to conservation efforts.
Sharing the Land brings Access Seekers and Landowners together based on an old idea: Bartering, or trading work for access. But there is much more to it. The Sharing the Land Members Resource Page will include a Conservation Resume, Cooperating Land Profile, Sharing the Land Agreement, and additional member resources.
Members will build their own Conservation Resume using a fillable form we have developed. Like a traditional resume, it is a tool to tell the reader about themselves. Access Seekers and Landowners will both build a resume and be able to change and update it as they acquire skills and interests evolve.
A Cooperating Land Profile is developed for each participating property. In that profile, the landowner will provide information about their property, project needs and what access opportunities are available for trade.
The Sharing the Land Agreement defines the “work for access” arrangement. It is flexible, expandable and safeguards the interests of the parties involved.
Sharing the Land keeps everyone’s information confidential and matches access seekers with landowners based on the information provided to make the most efficient use of everyone’s time. The Sharing the Land program provides a clear understanding of opportunities and responsibilities between landowners and access seekers before work is completed or access granted. Through collaboration and cooperation on conservation projects, relationships and trust between landowners and access seekers develop. We are excited to bring this cooperative network to the conservation space. Look for membership opportunities coming soon!
The Cazenovia Area Doe Derby
In early December, we held our first annual Cazenovia Doe Derby. It was an important cornerstone event for Sharing the Land. If there is an elegant solution for our conservation contexts, we like to use it. The Doe Derby is a raffle contest in which each antlerless deer harvested and tested for CWD becomes an entry. Landowners whose guests harvested deer also received an entry. For those with full freezers, we provided a drop-off point for delivery to processors participating in venison donation programs. In Richland County, we are swimming in deer. Fifty deer per square mile is considered a high population. Richland has on average, sixty-five per square mile. CWD prevalence is jumping yearly. Given these facts, we created the Derby to provide rewards for extra harvest efforts. The Doe Derby was set for the 4-day December Antlerless Season. By scheduling during a historically low participation season, our main goals were increasing harvests totals and increasing land access. By the end, approximately 25% of the county’s harvests had registered for prizes. Over 50 hunters participated on over 20 different properties.
The first two days, Thursday and Friday, resulted in only a few entries. End of day activities, catching up with neighbors over a bonfire and sharing the day’s experiences recaptured some of that deer camp magic. MeatEater's Ryan Callaghan and film crew joined those first two days and captured parts the hunt and events for an upcoming Meateater Cal in the Field episode.
Saturday and Sunday were perfectly poised for hunting. Our first registration on Saturday was an eight-year old’s first deer. For being the early bird, he walked off with a hearty pile of swag - a hat, a shirt, stickers and My Healthy Woods booklet. By end of day, most of the Derby’s registrations had entered.
Sunday had a handful more entries, with several hunters registering multiples throughout the day. 3pm was the cutoff for the grand prize drawing, which was a Camp Chef multi-burner propane range donated through MeatEater. Other prizes awarded over the four days were Razor binoculars, Diamondback scopes, and hats fromVortex, MeatEaterbookssigned by Steven Rinella, OnX Hunt subscriptions, a leather sling and game carrier from Chris Crafted and “It's not ours, it’s just out turn” merchandise.
We are deeply appreciative to all of you who provided support, whether you were able to attend or not. We hope you came away with new friends, some conservation education and great memories. The format will be adjusted next season to run a little longer and tighter, so keep an eye on these newsletters for those details next fall.
Come see us at booth 742 to learn more about Sharing the Land!
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