It is often assumed that development and environmental conservation are incompatible. In many cases, this is why land is put off limits in the name of conservation. While, preserves and reserves can be important for some areas, humans will perpetually develop and cultivate the landscape for food, shelter, and recreation. We will always be consumers and that will not change.
Therefore, conservation must also be applied to how we develop and cultivate our land and resources to ensure that human needs are met, while fostering our environment to continue to supply us with the resources we need.
“A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke [of the axe] he is writing his signature on the face of the land.”
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
Private landowners, as owners of more than 70% of land in the lower 48 states, play an important role as stewards of our country's land and resources. Farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners specifically have a great responsibility to ensure that our natural resources will be cultivated efficiently, while also ensuring that we do not deplete or harm the environmental systems that we rely so heavily on. This is not always easy as social and economic pressures make it harder and harder to make a living as a farmer, rancher, or forest landowner.
As a result, 3,000 acres of productive farmland is lost to development every day. This does not include the number of acres of forestland, ranches and natural habitat that are developed. With each acre lost we lose access to fresh and local produce, wildlife habitat, recreational areas and aid in the decline of rural communities.
At Resources First Foundation, we empower private landowners with information and resources to ensure that they can maintain sustainable resources and businesses. We provide access to a wide array of state and federal programs, resources and incentives to ensure our working and natural landscapes remain viable resources for now and years to come. When private landowners are empowered, conservation happens.