Once the Conservancy acquires a property, it may seem like the job of land protection is complete. However, that is only the beginning: the Lancaster County Conservancy protects land in perpetuity, and that’s a long, long time.
While some stewardship activities like trail clearing or trash removal make an obvious impact on a preserve, other activities are not so immediately apparent. The outcome of some of the work and planning we do today will not be fully seen for years or even decades. Whether we’re removing invasive plants, restructuring trails to prevent erosion or restoring habitat, we are undertaking projects for the benefit of future generations.
To carry out a sound stewardship program, the Conservancy is creating management plans for the long-term protection of each of our preserves. The plans address a wide variety of stewardship issues, and each is tailored to that unique piece of property, allowing us to implement a systematic approach to the care of the land.
What is Stewardship?
LCC defines stewardship as “the careful management of our lands for the health of the ecosystem, the enjoyment of the public, and the benefit of Lancaster County.”
Every year, more people discover our nature preserves; with each additional visitor, the impact on the land is increased. Trails erode and litter accumulates. Our goal is to maintain a high quality natural habitat on each property while simultaneously providing for public use and enjoyment. Thus, stewardship is an ongoing, ever growing and never ending responsibility.
Since the Conservancy acquired its first property in 1973, we have steadily increased our stewardship capabilities, first with volunteers and later with paid staff. As you visit our preserves, remember that much of what you see (and what you don’t) is in large part due to the care and dedication of our volunteers; both Volunteer Land Stewards who “adopt” a preserve, and a larger pool of volunteers who come out on work days.
In addition to our Nature Preserves, the Conservancy also protects over 800 acres in 23 conservation easements on privately owned land. Conservation easements are somewhat similar to deed restrictions and limit the development or use of a property. The Conservancy has accepted the responsibility to perpetually protect the conservation rights and values of these properties.