your resource for land conservation education and reference May 2012 Newsletter [ Archive ]

Private Landowner Network Conservation Resources at Your Fingertips
May 2012 Newsletter

One measure of our outreach comes from Tennessee forest owner Richard H. Day reacting to my recent  Society of American Foresters speech which Timber Harvesting reprinted. He emailed us to welcome the speech and our portfolio of web sites which he sees as helping him keep the farm started by his great-grandfather just after the Civil War. His goal for his family’s 360 acres  of timberland is “to keep it together for generations to come.”
My message to this thoughtful Tennessean and to the private forestry industry as a whole is that, as stated in my SAF speech, “It is time for your industry to aggressively project forest success stories on your contributions to land management, manufacturing, fuel alternatives, carbon sequestration, safeguarding clean water for metropolitan America, providing critical wildlife habitats and outdoor recreation, landscape-scale recreation venues and urban shade . . .  you need to focus on educating the women of America on forestry and you need to target America’s urban metroplexes on the benefits of tree planting and forestry.”
Success stories – on-the-ground, real-world examples of how conservation delivers benefits for the landowner, for his or her local community, for our nation as a whole, and “for generations to come” – that’s what we’re all about at RFF and PLN. Success stories like the Tecumseh Land Trust in Ohio featured in our PLN blog: “Increasingly, the younger generation of Ohio farmers is seeking to reassemble their historic family holdings into a larger farm. Other landowners who take up or return to farming may scramble to find enough land to farm profitably." By helping create new conservation easements, "Tecumseh is literally reconnecting a divided landscape, encouraging working farms and communities. These easements not only help landowners but also help to rationalize local land use, since towns will not have to take urban services into preserved areas.”

Sage Grouse Initiative Success Stories
USDA’s Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) may have arrived just in time to save not only sage grouse but also endangered western ranchers. The full story is at where you can watch NRCS Sage Grouse Initiative Coordinator Tim Griffiths explain that “What’s good for ranchlands is good for sage grouse. With SGI, both wildlife and agriculture win. Through the power of the Farm Bill, our ultimate goal is to negate the need to list sage grouse as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Such a designation would have a profound negative impact to ranching operations and rural communities throughout the West.”
The SGI site includes plenty of win-win success stories. With 208,000 acres put into conservation easements and new grazing systems in place on 1.3 million acres in 11 western states, SGI uses an array of conservation practices designed to help the land. Examples include establishment of conservation easements that prevent the conversion of large and intact working ranches into subdivisions, sustainable grazing systems to improve hiding cover for birds, removing invasive conifers from grasslands to allow birds to re-colonize otherwise suitable habitat, and marking or moving "high risk" fences near breeding sites to reduce bird collisions.
Working with the ranchers who've launched the Montana-based Partners for Conservation,  the next step in the SGI process includes a June 6-8 forum in Reno, Nevada to reach out beyond the 450 ranchers already enrolled as active SGI participants. As Montana rancher Dennis Mercer sees it, “It’s not all for sage grouse recovery. It’s for grass management and livestock production. Folks can look at it and there’ll be no doubt in their mind it’s probably working.”
Targeting Your Tax-Deductible Donations
At a time when federal and state funds for conservation are being slashed, it takes passion and hard cash to accelerate conservation efforts nationally and at state level. To narrow the funding gap which limits our conservation efforts – and to specify whether you’re contributing to the overall PLN initiative or to a specific project of your choice – please visit our donation page where you can custom-tailor your tax-deductible donation to Resources First Foundation, a 501(c)(3) conservation nonprofit. Help us provide the tools which landowners and land trusts like Tecumseh use on a daily basis to create more conservation easements – and create new energy-saving tools like the ones discussed below.

U.S. Dairy & Resources First Foundation Advance Sustainability
Launched with a White House demonstration of innovative ways to save energy while boosting  profits and environmental performance, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is providing the dairy industry new tools for all stages from production to distribution.
The new Dairy Fleet Smart tool developed by Resources First Foundation under contract from U.S. Dairy helps transportation managers identify ways to deliver milk more efficiently from the production facility to storage or retail by completing a 360-degree evaluation of fuel use. This web tool shows how fuel-efficient best practices can slash trucking companies’ fuel costs while reducing emissions substantially.
As part of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment, Dairy Plant Smart and Dairy Fleet Smart aim to help the industry achieve a combined reduction of 705,457 metric tons of emissions and $108 million in annual business savings as part of a voluntary industry-wide reduction goal. Jed Davis, director of sustainability at Cabot Creamery Cooperative, explains that “Resources like Dairy Plant Smart, Dairy Fleet Smart and the 2011 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report provide verified information, common measures and best practices to help producers, processors, manufacturers, transporters and brands improve their economic, social and environmental sustainability.”

The Dairy Fleet Smart tool was developed by a team of industry professionals working under contract with the Innovation Center.  Rick Ulrich from the University of Arkansas and Willard Dyche of the Resources First Foundation were the core members of the team that brought this tool to life.  Ulrich, the model designer, and Dyche, the web application developer, worked in tandem to create an easy-to-use tool so dairy industry fleet managers can evaluate the potential fuel and carbon emissions savings that can be attained by some simple maintenance on and modifications to the trucks in their fleet and implementing some new driver strategies.
2012 (or 2013) Farm Bill
The Senate Agriculture Committee has released its draft 2012 Farm Bill “To reauthorize agricultural programs through 2017.” The bipartisan attempt to cut program costs by $23 billion over the next 10 years is relatively gentle with the conservation programs covered in pages149 to 263 of the  900-page draft. There are conservation program consolidations to merge 23 current programs into just 13 programs along with cuts, such as cutting the ceiling for Conservation Reserve Program acreage from 32 million acres for 2012 to 25 million acres by fiscal 2017. Russell Shay, the Director of Public Policy at the Land Trust Alliance, calls the bill “a good first step” while warning that “Getting a bill out of the Senate as soon as possible is very important to getting a farm bill done this year, and that is very important for holding onto as much funding as possible.”
We Welcome Your Input & Insights

To contribute items for our national conservation database or offer your comments, please email: We welcome your participation in expanding our information resources and we're especially seeking success stories about farmers, ranchers and forest owners who are actively engaged in “keeping working lands working.”

Read our blogs on how Bob Belick’s Sustainable Strategies  is helping the country make the transition from today’s consumption-driven society to conservation which he says will become “our model for not only energy, but food and water too.”

Your Comments Please on Database Expansion
Help us advance the conservation effort by telling us how we’re doing. Please complete our short survey focused on our new Arkansas Conservation Center. It’s been your comments over the past decade which have guided us in adding to PLN’s database to make it even more useful for landowners, policymakers, and the general public. This survey should only take two to three minutes of your time. Your answers will be completely anonymous. Many thanks in advance.

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