Sunday, September 30, 2007

Putting It Back

If you live in the Mid-Atlantic, it's easy to look around and see that the landscape obviously didn't always look this way. Euro-Americans have been managing, extracting, and developing this landscape for 400 years. Native Americans have been clearing, ditching, flooding, burning, and cutting the same lands for thousands of years (at a much smaller scale). People have a lot of history here.

A lot of globally-unique wildlife used to call the Chesapeake Bay home, and many species still do - these species, for the most part, are tolerant of people, pollution, and other disturbances. Many of the species that could not cope with human activity or land management have either gone extinct, or are at risk of doing so. Land protection is increasing, but so is development pressure! Can nature win...or even break even?

The organization I work for protects and restores land for wildlife in the Chesapeake Bay. Not as a shield for developers or the Dept of Transporation....but for real...Here are a couple wetland restoration projects I'm working on:


Here's a small project in coastal Delaware...taking some really poor quality land out of agricultural production and providing for seasonal flooding to help out wintering and migrating shorebirds and waterfowl.


The picture below is from a 20 acre open water / emergent wetland project we're doing on the eastern shore of Maryland. Upland islands are included to provide some habitat for grassland birds.
This project will hold a small area of water through the early summer, providing habitat for frogs, salamanders, and a variety of birds. In the winter, it will serve as a large refuge for wintering waterfowl - no bird hunting takes place on the entire 900 acre property.
We currently have another 45 acres of work underway on the same property - hope the critters appreciate it!
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Fall is generally a "harvest" time for Americans. Farmers, gardeners, hunters, and anglers all look forward to a bountiful harvest in the fall months. Non-consumptive nature enthusiasts gather in some of their best experiences as well, this time of year - bird watching, rock climbing, kayaking....fall is a great time for all of these great activities.
As we participate in all these activities, it's easy to forget that keeping natural areas in place takes real efforts, real time, and real money. If you participate in, or donate to an organization that supports these principles (American Farmland Trust, Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited), take time to look around and enjoy what you've helped to protect for next fall, and endless seasons after that! If you've been too busy to get involved, at least consider making a donation!