December 2011 Newsletter

Dear PLN Partner,

As the holidays approach, please include Resources First Foundation and our Private Landowner Network in your gifting list. Cutbacks in conservation funding at both the state and federal levels make privately funded programs increasingly urgent, so please consider a generous donation. You can make a tax-deductible contribution with your credit card on-line or with our partner PayPal. Or you can mail your check to: Resources First Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, at 189 Main Street, Yarmouth, Maine 04096. Future generations will join us in thanking you for your continuing support!

Along with the financial support which is so crucial for enhancing our rapidly growing portfolio of free-to-users, web-based conservation resources, we also welcome your opinions and insights. So please take two minutes or less to complete this month’s survey. Together we can help develop conservation policies which recognize that private landowners and their efforts to “keep working lands working” are essential for continuing to feed, clothe and fuel the world.

Adding up Your Survey Responses
Our thanks to the many readers who’ve filled out our monthly surveys, providing very interesting results. Please continue this iterative process by answering PLN’s December survey questions.

The surveys show that roughly one-third of respondents are land managers or consultants; about one-quarter are forestland owners, farmers or ranchers; about one-quarter are government or extension personnel; and about 17% are land trusts, local conservation districts, researchers or “other.” Responses list PLN’s Programs and Exchange categories as the most popular, with 33% finding each of these “most useful.”  The Library and Toolbox sections followed close behind, at around 25%, in votes which top 100% because you could vote for more than one favorite.
The PLN home page was step one for 86% of respondents, followed distantly by the Conservation Tax Center, Maine and Arkansas. The surveys show strong support for adding:
  • A decision support tool to recommend appropriate federal or state assistance programs to landowners based on landowner needs and natural resources,
  • a listing of best management practice guides for water, soil, habitat and species management (already being incorporated into PLN and our state sites),
  • a “What’s New” section on the homepage and,
  • an ecosystem service markets section explaining where landowners can learn more about offering carbon credits for sale.


Fighting for Balance in the 2012 Farm Bill
Regarding the 2012 Farm Bill due to be completed next September, PLN survey respondents tilted clearly in favor of  conservation and extension and against commodity programs:
  • 48% (the largest percentage) said reduce commodity programs,
  • 46% said eliminate some programs entirely,
  • while only 10% said reduce conservation programs and,
  • 8% (the smallest percentage) said reduce extension programs.
Before the congressional super-committee called it quits Nov. 21 in their search for a deficit-cutting compromise, there was a risk that the 2012 Farm Bill would be hammered out in secret, with no opportunity for amendments. Conservation funding could have been cut disproportionately as part of backroom horse-trading. Conservation clearly remains in the budget cutters’ sights. But the good news is that now there will be open debate, with House and Senate floor votes on getting the best balance between commodity program subsidies, conservation priorities, and SNAP Food Stamp and other nutrition needs.


PLN's 'Working Lands' Blog
Enjoy learning more about Jim Stone of Rolling Stone Ranch in Montana and his Partners for Conservation. PFC has a primary goal of advancing solutions that will support collaboration around working landscapes to benefit present and future generations. It aims to represent the private landowners and partners who are practicing innovative, measurable, and effective conservation practices on the ground for the long-term health and productivity of working landscapes, rural communities, and natural resource economies across the United States.

Partners for Conservation has created 41,000 acres of cooperatively managed land which boosts landowner autonomy while conserving the Blackfoot River and its habitats. Stone says his goal is “to transfer the model that landowners in the Blackfoot started in 1993, which has worked all the way to today, and move that model of sitting down as landowners and working together to solve problems, to other parts of the country.”


Closer Focus on State Conservation
Along with adding new conservation resources in response to requests from officials in Texas, Pennsylvania and other states, RFF continues to enhance existing sites. The Maine Conservation Center now includes listings for “Guides, Outfitters and Lodges” in its Natural Heritage Tourism & Outdoor Recreation Resources section. Working with the Maine Professional Guides Association, we’ve added direct links to registered guides throughout the state.

Ditto for Arkansas and Mississippi – states giving top priority to “sustainable tourism” so that features such as biodiversity, organic practices, wildlife enhancement, hunting, fishing and birding remain unspoiled  for future generations. It’s no accident that Bentonville, Ark. is home to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art which opened in November, combining its spectacular art collection with an equally spectacular 120 acres of forests, gardens, and nature trails.
Library Resources & Reading List
Visit our PLN recommended reading list, with titles including:
Send Us Your Comments
To contribute items for our national conservation database or offer your comments, please email: We welcome your insights and we're especially seeking:
  • Success stories about farmers, ranchers and forest owners who are actively engaged in “keeping working lands working.”
  • Success stories such as Jim Stone’s Partners for Conservation.
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