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CathyB
08-24-2008, 12:15 AM
Hi! I'm looking for subjects for an article about individuals who have decided to make part or all of their property a wildlife habitat, or just let it return to its original natural state for conservation reasons. I have a subject who was a lifelong Wyoming rancher, and has transformed all of his ranch land into wildland; and also an upstate New York man who hunted all his life, then stopped and instead dedicated his time and property to rehabilitating injured birds of prey. Ideally I'd love a subject from a different part of the country than Wyoming or upstate New York, but would love anyone to reply. These potential subjects would include those who allow a small part of their yard to go wild, and those who dedicate more substantial portions of their properties to wildlands.

I'm a published writer and photographer. I would potentially like to come out and photograph your property.

Thank-you so much!
Cathleen

GeorgeK
08-24-2008, 12:29 AM
I have 192 Acres, of which I personally replanted most of it into woods with local hardwoods from the state dept of Forestry. The trees are about 20-30 feet tall now and I've fenced for livestock and gardening about 22 acres. I like a bufferzone of trees such that I can't see another house, plus I like to watch the wildlife and use a variety of feeders to watch, not hunt. ( I use more than 50 pounds of sugar a year, just on hummingbird feeders. It is so mindboggling to see a flock of hummingbirds, something I never saw as a kid. My wife and daughter are trying to figure out how to do a streaming feed for our farm website, just to watch the hummers.)

Legally it is a State by State and Org by Org kind of thing. I looked into bequeathing my 192 acres into a conservancy trust, but found out that legally, they can do whatever with my property. This means they could log it, clear cut, make it a private hunting preserve or whatever. Here, I found the best thing as far as my wishes go is to keep it in the family and hope that they respect my wishes, rather than trust some supposedly nature oriented organization to leave it alone which is what I consider the right thing.

CathyB
08-24-2008, 12:44 AM
Hi, George, and thank-you for your reply! I have a few more questions for you and I'm hoping I can use your answers for my article with your permission. Can I ask which state you're from? Also, while it's clear the good your actions have done for the environment, could you tell me the good it did for you? What was on the land before? Was this your idea, or did your wife or children prompt it? What did it cost you? Do you have any advice for other people who might like to do this?

Would you mind being quoted for an article? If so, could I have your last name privately? The magazine I'm pitching uses first and last names traditionally.

If too many questions, I certainly understand.

Thanks!
Cathleen

Horseshoes
08-24-2008, 01:08 AM
And on the left coast, Cathy, there's this, for ex
http://www.northolympiclandtrust.org/

GeorgeK
08-24-2008, 02:32 AM
and I'm hoping I can use your answers for my article with your permission.


Not a problem




Can I ask which state you're from?

Ky


Also, while it's clear the good your actions have done for the environment,

It's not clear...It's a personal thing. Me as an individual, I can not say what is definitively better for the environment any more than anyone else. We are all creatures of the Earth, and as such are not able to definitively say what is in the Earth's best ultimate interest. I simply have a suspicion that nature knows more than humanity, and has more ways to repair things than we understand, and were we to let nature do as she pleases, then she might be more likely be able to survive in a healthy fashion.
[/quote]


could you tell me the good it did for you?

In a way it was disheartening and humanizizing to realize that the organizations that I'd supported were not better. They were merely another way of looking at things and hopefully not some corrupted form of directing funds toward a would be thief to the ideals. To me it just seems right, but I acknowlege that I might not have the right viewpoint. I am a person, and the Earth is a planet.[/quote]




What was on the land before? Was this your idea, or did your wife or children prompt it? What did it cost you? Do you have any advice for other people who might like to do this?

about 9 other family farms prior to somebody else buying them up and consolidating them into a single mortgage/property, before we purchased it...It was my idea to do all this and my wife supported me. On the one hand I thought it was a good financial decision for my children such that they could, if they truly opposed my ideals, they could sell it, for land and lumber value. Should they support my ideals, they'd be able to maintain it by simply living here.

Cost?...hundreds of thousands of dollars...but that is not the point if you truly believe. My wife might prefer, and I'm sure my children (technocrats that they are) would prefer that we lived in a city. If I'm the one making the money, then mine should be the final say. That's simply the way that things are. I think that nature must be studied, respected and to a certain respect, obeyed.





Would you mind being quoted for an article? If so, could I have your last name privately? The magazine I'm pitching uses first and last names traditionally.

If too many questions, I certainly understand.

Thanks!
Cathleen

GeorgeK
08-24-2008, 02:34 AM
Hi, George, and thank-you for your reply! I have a few more questions for you and I'm hoping I can use your answers for my article with your permission. Can I ask which state you're from? Also, while it's clear the good your actions have done for the environment, could you tell me the good it did for you? What was on the land before? Was this your idea, or did your wife or children prompt it? What did it cost you? Do you have any advice for other people who might like to do this?

Would you mind being quoted for an article? If so, could I have your last name privately? The magazine I'm pitching uses first and last names traditionally.

If too many questions, I certainly understand.

Thanks!
Cathleen


Not a problem, I'll PM you

FennelGiraffe
08-24-2008, 02:58 AM
SF author Elizabeth Moon is doing that in Central Texas. http://www.elizabethmoon.com/commentary.htm

It's possible she might be willing to talk to you.

WendyNYC
08-24-2008, 03:34 AM
We have wetlands on our property (it's small, though, 3 acres in Southampton, NY) that we will not develop. We are near an estuary and I think it's important to keep things as natural as possible. It was the owner before us who let it go wild. I like it because it provides a great buffer from the neighbors and my kids like to go back there and catch frogs. We have deer, osprey, great blue herons, and wild turkeys that come to visit. Very exciting for city kids.

ETA: I should add that we do have grass in our yard, but we don't use chemicals on it.

Cathy C
08-24-2008, 03:50 AM
While it's not an individual, you might want to get in contact with the Phillips County Pheasants Forever Chapter in eastern Colorado. While they started out conserving to provide habitat for pheasant hunting, it's gone waaaay beyond that. They're nationally recognized as the top habitat producer in the country, and for the last ten years has been the largest spender of improvement dollars. This amazingly energetic group has planted over 800,000 trees, laid 2,000,000 feet of weed barrier, and through a private corporation, has purchased four and a half sections of land (a section is either 320 or 640 acres) which are now devoted to pheasant habitat. In addition, they raise tens of thousands of dollars every year to help the Colorado Division of Wildlife offer area farmers a higher premium to convert seven acre field corners (the square edges outside irrigated crop rounds) to habitat. Once contracted, the members plant trees and switchgrass for year round cover, and drill wells for water. According to Bruce Rosenbach spokesman for the Chapter, "the CDOW offers a fairly low per acre premium ($1.30) to farmers for access leases. Itís a fair price in some cases, but wasnít enough to convince locals to stop farming right up to the edge of their property. With our help, the CDOW has been able to offer $10.00 per acre." The group also annually plants food plots on chapter-owned lands. They might be an interesting sidebar for your article. You can read up about them at http://www.coloradopheasants.net (http://www.coloradopheasants.net/). I used them as a reference for a pheasant hunting article I wrote several years back. It's absolutely amazing talking with these guys and the dedication they put into returning lands to "wild" conditions. :)

Good luck!

hammerklavier
08-24-2008, 11:36 PM
You should come look at my lawn, I think it's returning to a natural state.

One thing about land returning to a natural state: it's not just a matter of the trees growing for a certain number of years. There will be several waves of plant species that are dominate, forcing most of the earlier growth out until the really big, strong, long lived trees take over. Those are slow growering species, so the whole process probably takes about 70 years.

And of course, in a truley natural environment, those would be killed of periodically by forest fire or disease, starting the whole process over. As ugly as it is, clear cutting of forests is not unlike that process (but leaves no ash to fertilize the cycle).

Ol' Fashioned Girl
08-24-2008, 11:57 PM
My wife and daughter are trying to figure out how to do a streaming feed for our farm website, just to watch the hummers.

On a far smaller scale, Ol' Boy and I are trying very hard to make the Ol' Back Yard into an 'urban wildlife habitat'. We've added many plants that serve as food in the summer and shelter in the winter. We make sure there's both fresh still water and running water at all times. We've got a wide variety of foods available on eighteen or so bird feeders. At times, there have been as many as seven squirrels, two bunnies, and untold numbers of various bird species happily sucking up the bounty. Just a couple days before Christmas each year, we go out and get three or four big Christmas trees and bring them home - usually for free - and fill them with fruits and foods and nesting materials for the coming spring. We added some decorative grasses in one corner this past fall to see if it will be good shelter this coming fall. It's about four or five feet high now and very full.

I'm sure it's done the habitat some good - I know it's done us a lot of good from the standpoint we've got a lot of interesting stuff to watch and photograph - it's paid off two fold in hobby material.

By the way, here's a wonderful site I found on the subject of streaming video and/or audio... the how-tos and what kind of equipment to get. I'd love to see those hummers! We have three this year - but they're so contentious, they fight so much they're never all at the feeders at once. :)

GeorgeK
08-25-2008, 09:52 PM
hummers! We have three this year - but they're so contentious, they fight so much they're never all at the feeders at once. :)

I know the bird books say to place the feeders so far apart, but we've found that if you use a 6-10 station feeder and place it only about 2 feet from another one, they seem to more cooperatively feed. The fewer feeding stations and the further apart, the more they seem to fight.

Tsu Dho Nimh
08-25-2008, 10:17 PM
I have been planting desert native plants, and a few imports that like the AZ desert conditions, on a large cul-de-sac lot.

1 - They take less work to maintain
2 - They use less water, even though I do supplement the water with an occasional soaking.
3 - The local bird population loves the mix of seeds and flowers ... who needs feeders when you have ironwood seeds an inch thick under the tree and various other plants blooming year round for the hummers.

On any given day, even though this is a suburb of Phoenix, I will have 20 Gambel's quail wander thorough (one batch hatched in my compost heap), three species of doves lounging in the shade of the mesquites (whitewing, mourning and inca doves), several species of hummingbirds, curve-billed thrashers, brown thrashers, cactus wrens, house wrens, towhees, verdins, mocking birds and some LBBs (little brown birds) of various species. It's a bird cafeteria, and I don't have to do much of anything.

CathyB
08-26-2008, 03:52 PM
Great! Thank-you all so much! Sorry, I haven't responded immediately. I'm nearing a deadline (Thursday), but after Thursday would love to contact you all to find out who's in which portion of the country, and perhaps we could include some quotes in the article.
Cathleen

ideagirl
08-28-2008, 03:12 AM
looked into bequeathing my 192 acres into a conservancy trust, but found out that legally, they can do whatever with my property. This means they could log it, clear cut, make it a private hunting preserve or whatever. Here, I found the best thing as far as my wishes go is to keep it in the family and hope that they respect my wishes, rather than trust some supposedly nature oriented organization to leave it alone which is what I consider the right thing.

Your land sounds gorgeous.

I'm just posting to point out that leaving it to family members may be more likely to cause the result you don't want than leaving it to a nature conservancy. Here's why:
(1) Family members may be obligated to sell the land or part of it to pay estate and/or inheritance taxes, and generally the people who want to buy big tracts of land are developers, lumber companies, etc.--the exact kinds of people you don't want owning your lovely land; in contrast, leaving it to a nature conservancy nonprofit would avoid those taxes being imposed on it;
(2) Your family members may also find they can't afford the property taxes and be forced to sell it or part of it in order to pay them or get out from under that expense, whereas a nonprofit wouldn't have to pay property taxes;
(3) When the people you leave it to die, their heirs may have little to no interest in conservation AND little or no interest in respecting your wishes (since they may have never met you or not known you well), so within X amount of time after your death (and it could be very soon if any heir dies young), the land could be in the hands of someone who doesn't care about it the way you do;
(4) If you leave it to more than one person and those people ever disagree about what to do with the land, one person could force a partition (legal division) of the land and sell their half (or third, quarter, whatever)--basically, if you leave it to more than one person, they all have to agree to keep it a nature preserve, and they all have to keep on agreeing, forever;
(5) Even if you only leave it to one person, if that person marries and then divorces, the land may be considered a marital asset and the court may order its sale, or its partition and partial sale; and of course, that problem multiplies if you leave it to more than one person.

Those are just the problems that strike me off the top of my head. To my mind, any of those scenarios is a good deal more likely than, say, the Sierra Club or whoever suddenly deciding to open a lumber company or whatever.