From the Ground Up: Forests North and South
and Climate Change on the Radio August 2016

                                                                

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Leading the Way on Climate Change

Abby Weinberg and Biodiversity Chart blog Header

OSI 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. 

Abby 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 valleys.

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.

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Community Forest Revival in Maine

View from Raymond Community Forest

                                                                 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. 

Capping 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.

OSI’s 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.

Two 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 individuals.

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.”

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Protecting Wilderness and Recreation in the Southern Cumberlands

Welch Point, Tennessee Chuck Sutherland

The 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.

The Land 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 (read more).

"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 Southeast."

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 Charitable Foundation.

Local 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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