Leading the Way on Climate Change
continues to play a prominent role in helping land trusts engage around climate
change. In addition to providing direct
support for land trusts throughout the east to incorporate climate science into
their land protection priorities, OSI staff has been active promoting the
important role the land trust community can play in protecting places that will
facilitate wildlife adaption to climate change.
Weinberg, OSI’s director of research, participated on a panel last month at the
North American Society for Conservation Biology, in Madison, WI, to describe
OSI’s work in translating climate science to drive more strategic
conservation. Abby also joined a
prominent scientist and science writer on Connecticut Public Radio on an
hour-long segment on climate change in New England.(Listen to the program here). She pointed out that while we have protected a lot of high-elevation,
acidic and granitic landscapes (think the White Mountains), we have done less
well at protecting many of the places that are likely to help wildlife adapt to
climate change, namely low-elevation silt landscapes and limestone
Through its Resilient Landscape
Initiative, OSI is highlighting the importance, and providing capital grants
and other support for the protection of these resilient place throughout the
eastern United States.
Forest Revival in Maine
Raymond Community Forest, Maine
A common fixture in the 19th century, community forests are sprouting up across the region as communities seek to conserve land for their economic benefit, local recreation and community character. OSI played a pivotal role in two recent projects, helping to create a new community forest in Raymond and add to an exemplary effort in Downeast Maine.
an eight-year effort, the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, OSI and numerous others
partners announced the creation of the nation’s largest community forest in
Grand Lake Stream (read more). The 21,870-acres will be combined with DLLT’s
adjoining Farm Cove Community Forest to create a 55,000-acre community forest,
which is located within almost 1.4 million acres of conserved land stretching
across two nations.
provided $250,000 toward the purchase, part of a total commitment over the last
15 years of $3 million toward conservation in the region. The community forest will generate revenues
from sustainable forestry, and protect fishing areas that attract tourism and
sustain local livelihoods.
hundred fifty miles away, OSI helped the town of Raymond and the Loon Echo
Land Trust create a new 356-acre community forest (Read more). The project
offers multiple long-term benefits for the town, including safeguarding clean
drinking water, lakes and wildlife exceptional scenic views. OSI provided a
$30,000 grant toward the project, which also received support by numerous
foundations, the Portland Water District, the Town of Raymond and numerous
The community intends to develop hiking trails to the cliffs of
Pismire Mountain and multi-use trails lower down for walking, hiking, cross
country skiing/snowshoeing and mountain biking. Hunting will continue. Over the
long term, the property will continue to provide income through timber
harvesting that can support the land and trails.
OSI supported both project through its Community Forest Fund,
which helps rural communities in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont create and
expand community forests, homegrown land conservation projects where citizens
work together to protect woodlands and their many values.
“Community forests represent community-based conservation in its
most compelling form,” said Jennifer Melville, OSI’s Maine-based Vice President
for Grants and Loans. “They are
conservation by and for the community.
They are an example of what can happens when communities seek to
retain directly the many benefits of the forest. We applaud these efforts and could not be
more proud and honored to support them.”
Wilderness and Recreation in the Southern Cumberlands
Welch Point, Tennessee (Photo:Chuck Sutherland)
Southern Cumberlands, a four million-acre forested region that is one of the
nation's most biologically diverse and least protected, became a little more
protected recently. Thanks to OSI's support, more than 3,000 acres of land have
been conserved recently in Tennessee.
Trust of Tennessee, in partnership with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
and with support from OSI, facilitated the protection of 2,600 acres in the
Scott’s Gulf region of the Cumberland Plateau. The land, which buffers and links some 45,000 acres of existing public
conserved lands, will be owned and managed by the State of Tennessee to protect
wildlife and ensure public recreation
"This project helps to ensure the integrity of large,
intact forests and safeguards the many benefits for wildlife and people they
provide," Open Space Institute Executive Vice President Peter Howell said.
"We salute The Land Trust for Tennessee and their partners for their
commitment to protecting this extraordinary region—a true jewel in the
OSI’s Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund contributed a
$475,000 grant for the project. The fund, created with support from the
Lyndhurst Foundation and Benwood Foundations and the Merck Family Fund, has the
mission of protecting wildlife habitat and biodiversity by preserving large
forest tracts in landscapes critical to facilitating wildlife adaptation to
changes in temperature and precipitation.
Just 50 miles away, a nearly 700-acre parcel was protected and
is now open for climbing. The
acquisition of Denny Cove, a popular climbing spot located just 30 miles from
Chattanooga, preserves a wild and climate resilient landscape in the Fiery
Gizzard region of the Cumberland Plateau.
The parcel was acquired by a coalition of conservation groups,
including the Access Fund, the Southeast Coalition of Climbers, Land Trust for
Tennessee and the Conservation Fund, among others. When
the property is transferred to Tennessee’s state parks later this year, OSI
will provide nearly a quarter of the $1.2 million funding needed through its
Southern Cumberland Fund and Resilient Landscapes Initiative, which seeks to
protect climate-resilient sites across the eastern US. The initiative is funded by the Doris Duke
climbers began exploring Denny Cove five years ago, attracted its 150
climbing routes, with potential for many more on nearly three miles of its
spectacular cliff line. The land is also
considered “climate resilient,” referring to its ability to provide diverse
wildlife habitat and give plants and animals room to move even in the face of
an uncertain climate. As part of the
Fiery Gizzard watershed, it may eventually connect with 20,000 protected acres
of state and privately owned conservation lands.
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