Photo by BLM
Land Protection and Stewardship are the foundation of Teton Regional Land Trust’s conservation mission. Working with willing landowners to place a conservation easement on private land is the first step to lasting protection and partnership. Teton Regional Land Trust ensures the integrity of each easement by providing ongoing stewardship resources such as site visits, up-to-date resources on habitat improvement, invasive species and best management practices for landowners, and the full commitment of our Stewardship Program and staff. The Stewardship Program is governed by Board-adopted policies and procedures that integrate Land Trust Alliance Standards and Practices. These guiding principles ensure we fulfill our commitments to landowners, preserve the integrity of our easements and uphold the public trust. Teton Regional Land Trust implements a Comprehensive Stewardship Program that incorporates two primary elements –Core Stewardship and Strategic Stewardship.
Core Stewardship activities that directly support protection of important agricultural lands and wildlife habitat, including:
- Integrating Land Protection, the development of new easements, and that of our Stewardship staff to document and inventory natural resources and man made features of all properties. This inventory informs the values and importance of the conservation easement, and provides the foundation for long-term monitoring and stewardship.
- Conservation Easement Monitoring – Annual visit and assessment of each conservation easement for changes in conditions over time.
- Conservation Easement Enforcement and Defense – As necessary, to maintain the purposes of the easement and to uphold our rights and responsibilities and that of our partners.
- Record-Keeping – File maintenance, updates and reporting.
- Landowner –Partnerships – Provide resources and assist landowners with relevant information and services – such as reserved rights processing and noxious weed management – advancing stewardship of the conservation easement property.
Strategic Stewardship includes activities and outreach that enhances or restores conservation values of easement properties, develops landowner and agency partnerships, strengthens the Land Trust and increases our capacity and credibility as a conservation organization. The Land Trust’s Strategic Stewardship program includes:
- Conservation Planning – Collaboration and research to identify key natural resources and agricultural values.
- Ecological Monitoring – Assess our conservation impacts by measuring species diversity, abundance and production.
- Habitat Restoration – Returning degraded or altered habitat to a healthy, functioning condition that supports priority wildlife species.
Teton Regional Land Trust serves the Upper Snake River Watershed; a vast 5.8 million-acre landscape, rich in fish and wildlife species, habitat diversity and deep-rooted agricultural traditions. Achieving conservation successes within this expansive landscape requires a carefully planned systematic and science-based approach. Teton Regional Land Trust actively engages with state and federal agencies and other conservation groups in efforts to prioritize landscapes and guide our comprehensive conservation activities and planning. Teton Regional Land Trust and partners implement a framework of conservation planning. These include:
- Compiling data on the biodiversity of the region
- Review of existing local, state and regional conservation efforts
- Identification of existing protected areas (i.e., State and National Parks, Wildlife Management Areas, existing protected lands, public lands and Wilderness Areas)
- Identifying conservation goals for the region, such as the protection of productive farmlands, protecting buffers to existing protected areas and connecting wildlife corridors
- Identifying conservation strategies and partnerships to achieve conservation goals
Photo by Tim Mayo
In order to develop a more thorough understanding of natural resources in our service area, the Teton Regional Land Trust implemented an ecological monitoring program in 2003. This program has grown over the years, and incorporates bird monitoring surveys and a native trout spawning surveys. The ecological monitoring program informs the Land Trust’s conservation planning, land protection, restoration priorities and outreach.
Working with agencies and partners, the Land Trust has identified geographic priorities for monitoring based on the ecological importance of the area to sustain the region’s biodiversity. Currently, we have identified the Henry’s Fork River corridor, the South Fork Snake River corridor and Teton Basin as priority areas for ecological monitoring. These areas are designated as Important Bird Areas (IBAs); therefore, bird monitoring is a principal goal of our monitoring efforts. Bird species are indicators of an ecosystems’ health and ecological monitoring in our service area will further empower our efforts to protect multiple use private properties (agricultural, recreation and wildlife habitat) within this landscape.
Past ecological monitoring projects have included:
- Waterbird monitoring along the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River and the Teton River
- Songbird monitoring along the South Fork of the Snake River and in Teton Basin
- Long-billed curlew surveys in Teton Basin
- Marshbird surveys in Teton Basin
- Yellowstone cutthroat trout surveys in Teton Basin
The Teton Regional Land Trust’s current ecological monitoring program includes:
- Sandhill crane surveys in Teton Basin
- Summer residency Trumpeter swan surveys
Conservation funding sources (federal, state and private) increasingly require specific information on the impacts that their conservation/restoration investments have made to key wildlife species. Teton Regional Land Trust believes a comprehensive monitoring program that provides informative feedback is key to guiding future conservation strategies for sustaining priority species and their habitats.
Through our continued monitoring efforts, the Land Trust has built upon baseline data gathered at the initiation of each survey. It is the intention of the ecological monitoring program to enhance our knowledge by continuing to collect information in the coming years, and to identify new landscapes and resources where information may be lacking.
Ecological monitoring provides a chance to explore exceptionally rich and diverse landscapes throughout the Teton Regional Land Trust’s service area. We are always looking for help from volunteers and invite people with ecological monitoring, data collection or data entry experience to contact the Land Trust. To help, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (208) 354-8939.
Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Program
Habitat restoration is a key element of augmenting the wildlife and public values of Teton Regional Land Trust’s conservation program, enhancing landowner relationships, boosting credibility with our partners, and creating greater opportunities for fundraising. As part of our Strategic Stewardship Program, the Teton Regional Land Trust works with willing landowners and other partners to restore or enhance wildlife habitat on conservation easement properties. Our restoration program is guided by Board-approved policies that include:
- willing landowner participation
- a stable management situation that protects the restoration investment, and
- outcomes that benefit high conservation priority fish and wildlife species at a landscape scale.
- Landscape-scale benefits are achieved through focusing on regional species conservation priorities and by implementing restoration/enhancement activities in areas that have connectivity with existing protected habitats or occur within areas identified as priority wildlife conservation areas by regional planning efforts. Teton Regional Land Trust is involved in both management-driven and active restoration and enhancement projects. Management-driven projects include working with landowners to implement best management practices including changes in grazing management, timing of farming/ranching activities, and fencing. Active restoration and enhancement projects are more intensive and expensive and include restoring/enhancing wetlands, revegetating riparian corridors, stabilizing streambanks, and developing instream fish habitat. The landowner is the principal partner on all restoration projects. Click here for a full list of agency partners.
Photo by Emily Nichols
Upon completion of a conservation easement the Teton Regional Land Trust continues working to build relationships with landowners. We strive to be a resource, assisting landowners in the stewardship of their properties across the Upper Snake River basin. The Land Trust stewardship staff is always available to work with landowners and answer questions about their property. We are also available to help seek funding for habitat restoration, agricultural improvements and weed control on easement protected properties. Landowners should feel free to contact the stewardship staff at the Land Trust office with any questions or concerns they might have about their conservation easement or the management of their property.