Celebrating Stewardship

A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children.John James Audubon

We are all turning the final pages of the chapter that was 2016 and with these final pages we are afforded an opportunity to reflect upon the plot and progress that have proceeded. At Hill Country Conservancy, we celebrate 2016 for several successes including closing on the fourth phase of the Historic Storm Ranch, the successful expansion of our focus area, and the ongoing opportunities to conserve an additional 10,000+ acres of the Hill Country. Any one of these in its own right is reason enough to throw a party, but it is our relationships with Texas landowners and land stewards that we celebrate most.

Every landowner has their reasons for owning land. These reasons are as diverse as the weather, but inevitably include varying degrees of economics, recreation, livelihood, and legacy. Whatever the reasons, we enjoy some of the most passionate landowners around, many of which take on stewardship and conservation with vigor and pride. They hold the land in high regard; they show through their example a deep connection and respect for the land and the processes land supports. They recognize the complex connectivity of water and wildlife beyond the boundaries of their land. They know the sweat and time they pour into their stewardship yields benefits beyond self and family but are shared with society.

I’ve been told it isn’t easy to take care of land; there is always a seemingly insurmountable list of uncrossed chores. Regardless of acreage, there is always more work that can be accomplished. Often times, land management successes are measured by how well you held the line against decline instead of making desired progress. Time and budgets quickly become limited resources. It is easy at this time of year to look back on the toil and dwell only on the work and unfinished tasks, but successes – however subtle or obvious – always exist.

Whether you noticed increasing numbers of bobwhite quail or the return of gushing springs and weeping seeps or even just recall the quiet appreciation of a setting sun shared among friends, the rewards of stewardship are steeped in your relationship to the land. The perfect time to stoke the flames of stewardship is now. Reflect on your reasons for land ownership. Consider the land: dote on its uniqueness, marvel at its wonder, and reconfirm your love for it. Like any relationship, it is important to nurture the love for the land and persevere in its stewardship. Rachel Carson recognized this when she wrote, “Those who contemplate the beauty of earth find reserves of strengths that will endure as life lasts”. That statement rings true in the Hill Country.

Our landowners are every bit as important as the natural resources they manage. Clean air and water, dark skies, and teeming wildlife emanate beyond kinship and barbed wire. We all benefit from the care given to the land. For that, we give our thanks to Hill Country landowners. For that, we recognize the incredible value of land stewardship. And for that, we reconfirm our commitment to being a resource to our landowner partners during 2017 and beyond.

About the Author

Romey Swanson

As the Conservation Project Manager, Romey Swanson assists the Director of Land Conservation with acquisition and stewardship of conservation easements. Duties include building and maintaining relationships with rural landowners and educating them on the benefits and requirements of conservation easements. In addition, the Conservation Project Manager creates maps and related georeferenced files as well as documentation and analysis of HCC’s existing and potential conservation easement projects. Check out Romey's personal blog: Modern Texas Naturalist