New Volunteer Program Launched!
There are some new Forest Society volunteers out in the woods this fall. They're not just out enjoying the autumn foliage (well, okay, there's some of that)- these volunteers are part of our new Volunteer Easement Monitoring Program (VEMP) and will be helping us monitor some of the more than 700 conservation easements the Forest Society holds across the state. Unlike our Land Steward volunteers, who work on land the Forest Society owns outright (our Forest Reservations), the VEMP volunteers are monitoring land owned by other parties, such as towns, other conservation organizations, or private landowners. VEMP volunteers also need to be familiar with the terms of the conservation easements covering each property they monitor, and they need to be able to locate boundaries and other key property features on the ground during monitoring visits. A new training session was developed and piloted this year to teach these skills to volunteers, and the first class of volunteers is now ready to tackle their first monitoring assignments.
Volunteer easement monitors will be using mobile technology (smartphone or tablet GPS apps) to collect track, point, and geolocate photo data on properties. "This is exactly how Forest Society staff collect our own field data," explains April Costa, who ran the technology portion of the VEMP training. "It's easier for data consistency and management if we have volunteers do it the same way."
Monitoring conservation easements in the field is a very important piece of the Forest Society's overall stewardship activities, since annual monitoring is required in order for the organization to remain an accredited land trust under the Land Trust Alliance. We're excited to involve dedicated volunteers in this effort for the first time, and are looking forward to this being a productive and fun partnership.
The pilot year of the Volunteer Easement Monitoring Program has been supported by a generous grant from The McIninch Foundation. If you are interested in becoming a VEMP volunteer, please contact Carrie Deegan at email@example.com or 603-224-9945. We hope to train additional VEMP volunteers as needed following this pilot year.