This September, thousands of conservation professionals gathered in New Orleans for the annual Land Trust Alliance event known as "Rally". Rally is a three-day conference that brings together land trusts, ecological-focused businesses, and environmentalist supporters alike from across the world. Through workshops, panel discussions, and presentations, attendees are able to learn from one another, network, and share ideas and experiences on common issues.
Our lands program manager, Clare, was invited to Rally this year to engage in a panel discussion and present on UPLC's remote monitoring program. This innovative program allows us to virtually 'visit' each of the 6,500 acres of land that we protect. Using satellite imagery and new G.I.S. technology, we can collect and analyze more information than we ever could have by just inspecting sites on the ground. About the program, Clare says, "Remote monitoring and satellite imagery analysis has become an integral part of our monitoring procedures and we can now more completely fulfill our monitoring responsibilities with limited staff. It has allowed us to complete more comprehensive monitoring reports by using the images as a communication tool and implementing the technology into our management plan and baseline drafting". Therefore, this program allows us to be more thorough, science-driven, and efficient with our time so that generous donations to UPLC are used with maximum efficiency!
In addition to sharing her expertise, Clare was able to learn about trends and obstacles in land conservation, broaden her knowledge outside day-to-day land management work, and take inspiration from all the incredible land protection work being accomplished across the country. Most notably, Clare was able to explore new opportunities in conservation that align with UPLC's goals for the future. She explains, "Part of our strategic conservation plan is building a GIS mapping tool for conservation land prioritization, but it can be difficult to have a thorough list of data resources available to land trusts. At Rally, I was introduced to new GIS layers to build into this tool and inform our projects including bird habitat conservation data from Cornell and watershed/stream data. Most of these were from the educational sessions, and with those, I have a list of potential funding sources and grants to explore that may complement these efforts". UPLC is so excited to see how this new technology can enhance our current efforts and further our impact as our organization looks toward the future.
When reflecting on Rally, Clare said, "Rally was such an enlivening experience—I am fairly new to the Land Trust world, and feeling the sense of community around the work we all share a part in was hugely motivating for me. I was fortunate enough to connect with a group of peers early on in the conference, with whom I built relationships with professionally and personally throughout the sessions, socials, and networking events. There were also a lot of people I got to speak with in person that typically I might have felt intimidated to reach out to via email or phone; being all together at Rally made it approachable to speak with these leaders in conservation".
The UP Land Conservancy would like to thank the Land Trust Alliance for their support through the Remote Monitoring Grant program and providing Clare with the opportunity to attend Rally this year. We hope to see you in Portland in 2023!