Summer is monitoring season at the Land Trust. It's a time when we visit our protected lands for an annual check-up.
Monitoring entails visiting the property at regular intervals and systematically taking photos at established locations (photo points). This helps us ensure that the conservation values of the property are upheld.
At timesn we see dramatic changes, like Camp Polk Meadow after the restoration. Or, in some cases, we note things that have remained blissfully consistent--like the song of a male Western tanager heard at the same spot every year at the Metolius Preserve.
Regardless, monitoring gives us time to check in on each Land Trust protected property and make sure all is well. The Land Trust monitors properties that we own—Land Trust Preserves—every other year. Though we actively manage these properties and visit them all year long, monitoring helps us assess the ecological health of the properties. Photo points on our Preserves are often established near populations of sensitive plants or where major restoration projects have occurred or are anticipated. Monitoring can help us watch these changes over time. At larger Preserves, like the Metolius and Whychus Canyon, monitoring ensures that we visit all corners of the property checking on boundaries and access points.
The Land Trust monitors private properties—easements—once a year. This annual visit is part of the individualized agreement we make with each landowner. It serves the same purpose as our Preserve monitoring, but also provides time to visit with landowners. Regular, documented monitoring is also part of our pledge to be an accredited land trust.
Finally, monitoring is really all about paying attention to the little things. Is the Peck's penstemon healthy? How tall are the willows along the restored Whychus Creek at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve? Will the Western tanager still be there? These things are the heart of why we do what we do.