Conservation project implementation requires an understanding of the resource as well as an understanding of landowner concerns. The best plans are contingent upon meeting both landowner and conservation goals. Successful landowner agreements provide the foundation for project success, whether the project calls for acquisition of a property in fee or donation or purchase of an easement or implementation of particular management practices.
Conservation project management requires clear communication, a willingness to listen, patience and perseverance. Landslide’s experience running dozens of natural resource based projects, including landowner outreach, water quality monitoring, watershed assessments, and river and forestry planning initiatives demonstrate a record of success.
GIS Mapping and Analysis
Utilizing available geographic information for landscape level and individual property analysis facilitates project planning and implementation. GIS is used in project selection, identification of conservation areas, locating trails, wetlands, wildlife corridors and restoration project implementation. It is also critical to analyzing watershed wide water quality data and other landscape level parameters.
Community Involvement and Facilitation
The best natural resource management and planning requires community engagement. Using focused community discussions to frame complex natural resource management and planning issues for effective public debate allows people to discover areas of agreement while setting aside polarizing emotions.
Over time and in the present climate, a river left in its natural state will maintain an equilibrium condition. A stream in a state of equilibrium will maintain a relatively stable channel, reducing erosion hazards and flood damages and providing a diverse habitat for aquatic organisms. Historically, humans have sought to control rivers by moving, straightening, hard armoring and dredging them. This has caused major disequilibrium in many locations and creates expensive on-going management concerns.
Vermont DEC River Management Program has developed an extensive Stream Geomorphic Assessment protocol to assist communities in managing rivers toward equilibrium. Landslide has extensive experience completing the Phase 1 and 2 Stream Geomorphic Assessments and River Corridor Plans, and in collecting and analyzing other water quality data. Collating and analyzing existing data or collecting new data results in the creation of readable, sensible summary reports and public presentations that help decision makers better understand the state of their watershed.
River Corridor Planning and Assessment
The goal of river corridor planning is to utilize stream geomorphic assessment data to determine the river’s current degree of departure from the reference equilibrium state and to identify existing constraints to the river evolving back to equilibrium. The analysis results in a prioritized list of restoration projects that may be implemented over the long-term by individuals and organizations interested in reducing expenses related to flood and erosion hazards, reducing sediment pollution and in improving aquatic and terrestrial habitat within the watershed.
Community based conservation planning incorporates the needs of both wildlife and people. It is a transparent, inclusive process that integrates what residents already know about their community with new information and results in a clear, comprehensive plan that can be implemented over time. The process involves public meetings and one-on-one interviews of hunters, hikers, anglers, bikers and others who are familiar with their town’s resources to gather baseline data. This information is then overlaid with existing public lands, areas of core habitat, wetlands, streams, trail networks and scenic properties. New data may be acquired where gaps are identified.