Best Working Lands Quotes of 2010

By: Amos S. Eno
Posted on:12/30/2010 Updated:01/04/2011

With the very best wishes for a prosperous New Year, here they are:

Land Protection

“In signing H.R. 4853 into law on December 17th, President Obama renewed the enhanced easement incentive through December 31, 2011 and retroactive to January 1, 2010.  The easement incentive:

  • Raises the income tax deduction a landowner can take for donating a conservation easement from 30% of their income in any year to 50%;
  • Allows farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their income; and
  • Increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from 6 to 16 years.
“In the 112th Congress, the Chairmen of both the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees will be members who previously introduced and championed legislation to make this incentive permanent.  We look forward to working with them over the next year to achieve that goal.”
 - Russ Shay, Director of Public Policy, Land Trust Alliance

“Some critics of the Pingree Forest Partnership Easement (more than 760,000 acres) felt that the terms of the easement were not restrictive enough and said, ‘Why pay all that money when nothing will change?’  My answer was, ‘That’s exactly why!’”
 - Keith Ross, Senior Advisor at Landvest, Real Estate Consulting Group;
 formerly employed by the New England Forest Foundation

“I shared my first GAP analysis results with the Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy.  Kelvin Taketa from TNC took the analysis to Hawaii’s congressional delegation, to Daniel Inouye, who happened to be his godfather.  As a result, we got Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and a couple of TNC preserves on Maui and Molokai established.  That was a direct result of the first GAP analysis.”
 - James Michael Scott, Professor and Research Scientist, University of Idaho.

“Land is an heirloom asset, not easily divisible if you want to keep it working.”
 - Mary Sisock, Ties to the Land Initiatives Director


“The more management I do in our timber the more the wildlife grows.”   
Dave Konz, Owner and timber manager of K Diamond K Ranch in Washington

“If you do a good job of logging superior quality logs, it’s amazing what kind of return you get from them.”
 - Greg Nolan, owner and principal of Snowy Pines Reforestation in Minnesota

“It’s like thinning carrots in a garden,” Kathy continues, “the ones left behind grow and thrive.  
Kathy McKay of K Diamond K Ranch, Washington

“Since its establishment in 1991 through 2006, the Forest Stewardship Program has produced more than 330,000 multi-resource management plans encompassing more than 38 million acres of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) land.” 
- Karl Dalla Rosa, Forest Stewardship Program Manager, US Forest Service

“I’m open to using newer bulls that are untested.  I love it when people say ‘Locust Hill is one of the new, up and coming Angus breeders in the country.’”
 - Michael Webert, Locust Hill Farm Manager for the last three years in Middleburg, Virginia.

“We need vendors that can tell an oak from a basswood without leaves to look at, and we need stewardship plan writers to create better communications on land potential.”
 - Greg Nolan, owner and principal of Snowy Pines Reforestation in Minnesota.

“Because we are a public lands ranch, we are very dependent on BLM grazing permits. Contrary to what you might hear about private landowners grazing public lands, this gives us even more incentive to be good stewards.”
- Sharon O-Toole, fourth generation rancher on the 12,000-acre Ladder Ranch in Colorado and Wyoming

“In the eastern corn belt, the high prices of commodity crops are leading farmers to tear out more and more private forests, both large and small. Although many economic forces are at work here, the demand for corn for ethanol production is one of them. We need to somehow find a balance between the production of home-grown fuels and wise land use choices for the future. Too many farmers look at that patch of woods as just wasted land. Perhaps the USDA should shift some of the money spent on DCP payments (crop support) to incentives for forest management.  
- Debra Carpenter, commenter on the 8/19/2010 PLN blog,
 “Might Green Energy Replace Development as #1 Threat to Habitat?

“If we’re not working with private landowners, we won’t have salmon.”
 - Ray Abriel, Forest Service Regional Manager for Landowner Assistance in the Pacific Northwest

“What we need to foster is ownership in the execution of stewardship plans.  About 60% of our coached planning grads follow through and write their own plan; nationally, only about one in ten are managing under a written plan.  The beauty of Coached Planning is that plan or no plan, 9 out of 10 owners begin executing stewardship practices within one year of completing the short course.” 
Andrew Perleberg, Extension Forester with Washington State University

“Close to 11 million families and other private owners manage about 423 million acres of forest land in the United States. This land represents more than half of the forested lands across the country.”
 - Karl Dalla Rosa, Forest Stewardship Program Manager,
US Forest Service

Love of the Land

“People are so motivated for the health of the land and habitat. That’s what’s really exciting.”  
- Sarah Adler, NV Pinyon-Juniper Partnership, Nevada State Director, USDA Rural Development

“The Idaho ranch we bought in 2003 had been owned by Bill Swahlen and Marion, his wife of many years.  Bill had owned the ranch since the late 70s.  He only sold it at the age of 84 after his wife gently insisted that, for the sake of his health, it was time to sell.  He had a son and daughter, but neither was interested in the business. Bill loved the place so much that when we thanked him at the real estate closing he told us: 'Nikos and Val, I want you to know one thing.  When I die, if St. Peter opens the Pearly Gates for me it will be an anticlimax.'  This brought tears to my eyes and made us even more committed to become good stewards of the land and animals.  The Swahlens moved to Arizona, but unfortunately haven’t been able to visit since then due to Bill’s advanced age."
- Nikos Monoyios, owner of the Eagle Valley Ranch in Idaho since 2003

“What is the biological threshold for degraded grasslands?  Is it when bighorn sheep, or pronghorn, or deer disappear?”
Bill McDonald, Owner of the Malpai Ranch in Arizona and
Executive Director of the Malpai Borderlands Group

“December, January and February are the most peaceful months of the year for the animals and for us. The cows are all home in the meadows near the house close to the bales of hay we have stored to feed them through the winter. March, April and May are the busiest months on the ranch because that is when all the baby calves are born.”
  - Carol Hamilton, a long-time Wyoming Rancher,
writing a letter to school children in the Adopt-a-Ranch program
she helped establish in Uinta County, Wyoming.


"Current environmental conditions in Nevada are creating odd bedfellows. Ranchers are concerned with preserving water rights to sustain the productivity of the Nevada working landscapes; environmentalists seek to maintain valuable ground and in-stream waters to benefit native wildlife species.  Suddenly, we find these  groups working together for a common good!
 - Connie Lee, Private Landowner Incentives Coordinator for the Nevada Dept. of Wildlife

Texas is home to about half a million deer hunters.  Grasslands are a big area of conservation emphasis, as they are in many other parts of the country.”
 - Texas, Carter Smith, Executive Director of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

“We live by Steve Thompson’s (retired Fish & Wildlife Service) mantra:  find the 80% you can agree on and don’t waste time arguing about the 20% you disagree on!”
 - Nita Vail, Executive Director, California Rangeland Trust

Opportunity and Heartbreak

“There is not a lot of communication for what goes on outside the urban boundaries.  A lot of cities are getting their water from distant places now, where they don’t have direct control over the land use.  So they should pay more attention.”
 - Tom Daniels, Agricultural Economist and Planner, University of Pennsylvania

“With TIMOs, there are no set asides for conservation, and the big timber companies willing to lease their lands for public hunting can’t compete with the TIMOs.  Recreation on private land isn’t what it used to be.”
 - anonymous

“I can’t remember seeing the stars lined up so well as they are right now to go do things in conservation.  But the money thing is the killer.”
 - Gary Myers, retired director of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency,
now with Partnership for Southern Forestland Conservation

“There is a lot of wealth and a high environmental ethic in the state of Connecticut, but things are tight everywhere and the mortgage banking meltdown has exacerbated the situation.”
 - Eric Hammerling, Executive Director, Connecticut Forest & Park Association

"Private landowners represent both the unsung heroes and the most under represented constituency in the pantheon of American conservation heroes. At some point in the next decade they shall be recognized for what they are: our nation's best stewards of our rural landscapes and the true sinews of our nation's conservation corpus."
 - Amos Eno, Executive Director, Resources First Foundation and
originator of the Private Landowner Network concept