Report of Activities and Annual Report For Fiscal Year 2007
Blue Mountain Land Trust has had an excellent year. After 7 years of consistent, diligent work, we can feel the wind beneath our wings and are preparing to expand our reach in land conservation and outreach.
We completed a 3 year strategic plan and fundraising plan which helps guide us through our opportunities, focus our priorities, and prepare us for more intensive fundraising. Staff and board members have attended workshops and conferences to increase knowledge and exposure to new ideas. We have become members of the newly formed WA Association of Land Trusts created dedicated to building capacity and unifying the voice of these conservation partners.
We continued work on the assessment of landowner interest in conservation measures along key fish bearing streams in the watershed was an early focus this year. We completed two outreach meetings for each stream reach included in the study, Walla Walla River, Mill Creek, Coppei Creek and the Touchet River between Waitsburg and Dayton. Two Whitman interns helped BMLT with the survey by inputting land ownership information into our survey database, inputting survey results, and collecting outreach information regarding birds and native plants to be sent to interested landowners. We are continuing the survey through one on one follow up meetings with individual landowners.
BMLT was present with a display at several events including the Walla Walla Conservation District annual meeting, Walla Walla Farmer’s Market, and the 4th of July in the Park Celebration. We sent 2 newsletters and additional information regarding the increased Federal Income tax incentives to area attorneys, accountants and estate planners.
Mark Radditz donated an amazing performance reenactment of John Muir who was one of the original conservationists responsible for the preservation of vast landscapes cherished today. Muir didn’t always win his battles, but provided essential awareness building about the need for preservation.
Conservation easement project negotiations and implementation has dominated our efforts and we’ve seen a 3 fold increase in the level of interest by private landowners. By the end of 2007 fiscal year, we were working with 12 different landowners from Starkey Oregon to Dayton Washington. Many of these landowners were identified though our above mentioned survey. The time to complete an easement from initiation to closing varies significantly. It is not unusual to hear about easements that require 10 years to complete. We continue to meet with new landowners, informing them about conservation options, and seeking funding to see their goals through while we shepherd existing conservation projects through to completion.
BMLT worked in partnership with Snake River Salmon Recovery Board, Walla Walla Basin Watershed Council, Walla Walla County Watershed Planning, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Kooskooskie Commons, Tri State Steelheaders and the Walla Walla Conservation District to assist in permanent protection of important natural resources.
The number of people contributing to BMLT increased in 2007 by 62%. We were successful in acquiring a $1,200 grant from Blue Mountain Community Foundation which will be used to create compelling video describing 3-4 landowners who made the choice to conserve their land. This video will be utilized in our outreach and fundraising efforts.
We secured more than $600,000 in competitive grant funds for direct conservation easement acquisition.
In addition a $4,000 grant was awarded by Wildhorse foundation for stewardship funding for an easement on the Walla Walla River in Oregon.
In summary, we have had a very active year. The board of Blue Mountain Land Trust dedicated over 200 hours of valuable time to the organization and is committed to seeing it succeed in its vision. We anticipate the next year to involve completion of several easements including carrying out stewardship responsibilities. We expect completion of a “Good Neighbor” handbook describing ways rural residents can limit their impacts to water and other natural resources. The board and staff are preparing to initiate a new fundraising strategy that will increase community understanding and appreciation for our work and ultimately increase our membership. BMLT expects to take part in Walla Walla County’s update to the critical areas and shoreline ordinance. We expect to apply for foundation funds that will help build our capacity so that we may accomplish all this and be prepared for the amazing landscape conservation opportunities that will arise.