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November 14th, 2022
By Lauren Ulich
This is an excerpt from the Fall/Winter 2022-2023 issue of the Upstate Advocate, Upstate Forever's twice-yearly publication. To read a digital copy of the complete publication, please click here.
Upstate Forever has launched an exciting new stewardship initiative, the land management program. This voluntary program is designed to provide technical and financial assistance to conservation easement landowners who are motivated to actively address threats to the land’s natural resources and conservation values, such as erosion, invasive species, and overall habitat degradation.
This expanded approach to conservation easement stewardship will strengthen relationships with existing landowners and demonstrates that UF's commitment is twofold, with a focus on both the quantity and quality of protected land.
The ecological issues that this program addresses are complex and will require a collaborative approach. We will call upon our robust conservation network in the Upstate to connect landowners with the most up-to-date information and resources needed to target priority land management activities.
Potential projects may include native plantings, prescribed burns, and invasive plant management. We will focus this work on improving riparian buffers, grassland habitat and forests. These are critically important ecosystems found within our inventory of protected properties due to their high levels of biodiversity and association with priority species identified in the South Carolina State Wildlife Action Plan.
Perhaps most importantly, we anticipate the ripple effects of this new program will result in benefits beyond our portfolio of protected properties. Land management projects can serve as demonstration sites used to communicate techniques, impacts, and lessons learned to the larger community and other partners in conservation.
This new land management program ultimately enhances the work we already do and is well-aligned with UF's mission to protect critical lands that influence our water quality and unique character of the Upstate. Improved management of protected properties will directly impact valuable water resources in the Upstate and will support the diverse flora and fauna that make our region so special.
Lauren Ulich is the Land Stewardship Associate for Upstate Forever. Interested conservation easement landowners can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.