By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
(Feb. 2, 2023) The Lower Shore Land Trust (LSLT) is looking for nature and wildlife lovers who want to become land stewards. And you don’t have to have any land to do it.
“The LSLT has 135 conservation easements across the Eastern Shore, covering more than 23,000 acres of land,” Kate Patton, executive director of the Lower Shore Land Trust, said.
A conservation easement is a written agreement between a landowner and conservation agency, or land trust, which ensures that a property will not be developed beyond an agreed-upon limit, or perhaps not at all.
The land remains in private ownership while the trust assures that the terms of the agreement are forever. Conservation easements can be tailored to the needs and desires of a property owner. Landowners can continue to farm, harvest timer and hunt as well as reserve building rights for future use.
It is the responsibility of the land trust to visit each site once a year and that is a lot for a small staff to manage. So, the land trust hosts training for volunteers yearly who want to become land stewards.
This year’s training is Feb. 11, with advanced training for experienced stewards on March 1 and field training on March 3 and 4.
Once trained, volunteers visit the easements, meet with landowners and promote best practices. They meet with the staff before the visit and learn about the property. The trust provides continuing educational materials and training to the landowner. Volunteers are trained to complete the specific reporting that is required for each easement. All volunteers are joined by staff or another experienced volunteer on the visit.
Patton said people can choose whether they want to visit a few properties or many.
“This is a great way to get out and see some nice properties,” Patton said. “One of my favorite properties has old-growth beech trees. A lot of birders are in our group. The landowners love to hear what birds are on their property.”
“Once people start volunteering for this program, they pretty much stick around,” she said. “We have about 15 people a year.”
To sign up for the Land Stewardship Trainings, visit https://lower-shore-land-trust.dm.networkforgood.com/forms/in-house-stewardship-training-registration.