Strengthening the conservation community

Protecting the environment takes an entire community. In early February, the Coalition co-sponsored a virtual gathering of regional conservation leaders at the annual Southeastern Massachusetts Land Trust Convocation, to share new trends and best practices among those focused on protecting and restoring our region’s most treasured natural landscapes and vital habitats.

More than 70 people attended the Convocation, which took place on Zoom, rather than the traditional in-person gathering. The Coalition joined with the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts to organize the event.

“The Convocation brings together people who are involved in conservation from throughout our region,” said Brendan Annett, vice president of Watershed Protection at the Coalition, which has co-sponsored the event for more than a decade. “I view our role in organizing the event as an important way of fostering a strong land conservation movement in every community around the Bay.”

Beyond networking, the event offered a variety of workshops to help every participant acquire some new knowledge, a new skill, or access to a new tool that enables them to be more effective, Annett said.

“We’re preserving an important part of the world, and we can all learn from each other,” said Mark Robinson, executive director of The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, in opening this year’s session. “This is our first Convocation totally in virtual form, and it’s a new opportunity for people to tap in who might not otherwise be able to drive all the way to the [traditional meeting location near the] Cape Cod Canal. The benefit of this being recorded will enable other people to tap into the information as time goes on.”

Leonard Johnson, president of Cape land trust compact as well as a board member of The 300 Committee Land Trust, praised the quality of the presentations, which are now available online. “This was a very good way to raise current issues and get the community together,” he said. “It’s not as valuable as gathering in person, but the presentations were terrific.”

The topics covered during the all-morning gathering spanned a broad range of subjects, from building municipal support for conservation to the basics of conservation restrictions. Mead Binhammer, the Coalition’s land stewardship assistant, co-presented a workshop about effective communication through using signs on conservation lands.

“Hearing from others involved with land trusts in southeastern Massachusetts is always valuable, no matter how much experience you have,” said Dexter Mead, executive director of the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust. “I have been attending these convocations since 2005 and each time I come away with new ideas that I want to try at DNRT. I also enjoy making new contacts and seeing old acquaintances who all share a common passion for land conservation. It inevitably helps re-energize me for the year ahead.”

The gathering’s plenary session focused on opportunities presented by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a federal program to facilitate the permanent protection of natural places across the United States. Established in 1964, the program recently received a boost from Congress to redress decades of underfunding. Amy Lindholm, manager of the LCWF Coalition and the northeast regional manager of the Appalachian Mountain Club, discussed how the fund could assist local land trusts in their work.

“Fully funding the LCWF presents a really exciting opportunity for conservation work by local land trusts,” Annett said. “In Massachusetts, those funds are distributed through a grant program that land trusts working with municipalities and state agencies can apply for to ensure permanent access for recreation, protect the watershed and waterways, protect wildlife prepare for the impacts of climate change and provide a lot of benefits for our local communities. It’s a really big deal.”

“The virtual Southeastern Mass Land Trust Convocation was well organized and informative,” said James Bride, director of the Sippican Lands Trust. “I enjoyed attending both the general session on the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the session explaining the various strategies and tools that land trust organizations can use to partner with towns and local governments to achieve successful outcomes on land conservation projects.”

Working to Save Buzzards Bay

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a membership-supported organization dedicated to improving the health of the Buzzards Bay ecosystem for all through education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

We work to protect clean water on the Bay and on the land: