Jun 30 2011

A Lesson from the Land

Margaret WaldockA few weeks back my 8-year-old niece, Irene, who hails from the wilds of Western New York State, told me that when she grows up she is going to move to New Jersey because it’s beautiful and green, and the people are friendly and talk to you. When you consider the prevailing negative impressions of our fair state and that they come mostly from driving on the New Jersey Turnpike or watching reality television, this is kind of astounding.

The reason Irene has formed such a positive impression of our state is that she has directly experienced the fruits of decades of land preservation efforts throughout New Jersey. When Irene and her older sister visit me, we tube down the Delaware River, sunbathe on public beaches, and cycle down bike paths. Her experiences make land preservation relatable to her, so she appreciates what many others fail to see in New Jersey and dreams of one day living in such a green and friendly place.

Making land preservation relevant is essential to efforts to protect New Jerseys farms, forests, and waterways and to fostering a sense of stewardship and responsibility in the next generation.

Recently, the Hunterdon Land Trust hosted a day for the public to explore our Lockatong Preserve in Delaware Township. Local naturalists and a professional photographer donated their time to lead visitors on guided walks, instructing visitors on the best photography techniques to capture the beauty of nature and pointing out native flora and fauna and our management practices to foster those communities.

Some of the folks that came were people who knew of the land trust, but most didn’t know the preserve existed and that this was a place they could come and enjoy with their families. It’s become apparent to me as executive director of a countywide land trust that events like these are essential to building long-term support for our mission.

There is a saying that we protect what we love and we love what we know. Those of us concerned for the future of New Jersey’s unique and special landscapes should follow my niece Irene’s lead – get outside and share the places you know and love with the ones you know and love.

This post originally appeared at the Dodge Foundation blog

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