by Woody Kellum
2012 marked the Raisin Valley Land Trust’s twentieth anniversary. At our ten year anniversary, we had 358 acres under conservation easements, and now we have a little over 600 acres. This steady growth is not spectacular, but it shows the ongoing commitment of our small group of volunteers. Twenty years is a significant history, but a mere blip in the eternity we intend to protect the land for. Why do we as a land trust make this commitment? Certainly it’s because we care about preserving the landscape around us – for the small farms, the wildlife and native ecosystems, and limiting urban sprawl – all the issues many of us care about. But it’s also about helping individual land owners to preserve the land they know and love; these are land owners for whom their land is more than a financial resource.
Many of our fourteen easements involve personal relationships between RVLT board members and the land owner. Even though RVLT could do nothing but simply enforce the legal easement contracts, we have found it very important, as well as satisfying, to maintain these personal relationships as much as possible. As time goes on, our continued success in protecting land will depend as much on open communication with our land owners as enforcing easement contracts. Forever is a long time. In the legal sense, it’s only as long as our legal system lasts. In a personal sense, it is as long as we live. In the foreseeable future of our human culture, protecting land forever will depend on the respect we all give to the land, and to those who are responsible for it – the land owners.