Land Conservation Committee: The Big Picture

Overall goal: A master plan for managing our land.
  • This is not the same as the much broader Lathrop master plan that Thom announced yesterday in our mailboxes. Our plan is just about land management for conservation and native habitat; that larger plan is about everything. Our plan will inform the larger plan.
  • Our plan will give us a vision of what we can realistically achieve, priorities for what is most important, and a budget, timeline, and task list to guide our  future work

How do the consultants and visitors fit in?

 Tom Sullivan: One-time cornfield.  Tom was a one-time consultant May 9, 2014, paid by Thom, just to help us decide whether immediate action on the corn field was wise. After committee members and management visited the corn field and listened to our consultant, we decided that the issue was more complicated than we had thought, so we would just sit tight for now and let the corn field action emerge as part of the larger plan. We have no ongoing commitment to Tom Sullivan.
  •  Holly Nelson and Kay Brush: One-time inspiration. Holly and Kay are a landscaper and resident from the New Jersey retirement community where Thom used to be director. They were one-time visitors, June 11, 2014, paid by Thom, to be an inspiration to us about what another retirement community has done. There is no plan to engage them again.
  • Julie Meyer, One-time Cranberry House Garden.  Julie is a local natural landscaper. She has a  one-time engagement, $600, paid by resident donations, for her to plan a native plant garden for the Cranberry House. Then we will purchase the plants she recommends and hold a residents/staff “planting day” to put them in. This wildflower garden is a small piece of our overall project. We decided to do it as a kind of show-piece to get residents involved, create visibility for our project, demonstrate what could be done with native plants in a home garden, and present ideas to other residents who would like to plant natives. Julie has done an initial assessment. In July, she will present rough sketches of 3 garden plans in a meeting that will be open to all (date tba). We will choose a design, and then she’ll do a detailed plan for it. We have no ongoing commitment with Julie.
  • Laurie Sanders, master plan. Laurie is a nationally-renowned naturalist and land planner who has done regular features on NPR, authored a book, and worked extensively with communities like Northampton and with non-profits to plan land management for conservation and native habitat. She lives in this area. One-time engagement, June 30-July 3, to walk our land and help us make an overall master plan for our land. She will help us address questions such as:
    • What plants, animals, land features, and habitats are here?
    • How does our land fit into the wider ecosystem in our area?
    •  What are the most damaging invasives and how can we control them?  What uses of our land are possible for residents, wildlife, and wider community?
    • What vision of our land is realistic?
    • What are the most important things we can do within our budget?
    • What grants might we get?

The plan will in turn lead to budget, priorities, and tasks. Laurie charges $75 per hour, and Thom is covering her fee. We estimate 10-15 hours of work for Laurie to walk our land with us while we take notes like mad, and then sit down with us to talk about what we’ve seen and what might be possible. This “walk and talk” process is very much “on the cheap”; normally, Laurie would spend more time and produce an extensive written assessment and plan, costing much more money. But we think this “walk and talk” approach will serve our needs just fine, given our aims and our budget here at Lathrop.

 July through September:  Enough consulting! Time to write a plan, a budget, timeline, and task list (which will be a plan-driven revision of the committee’s current task list). The Committee, Lathrop management, and interested residents will meet as many times as needed to thoroughly discuss and shape our plan, budget, timeline, and task list. Our aim is to involve lots of people and to make this a very democratic and deliberative process.
Then we will MAKE IT HAPPEN!

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