REACHing 2020: Five Pivotal Years


"I chose to live here for a reason. There was a farm across the street, with horses and a barn. Now, it is a subdivision."

You and I have likely heard this story dozens of times from friends and family in Northern Utah. I heard it many times this summer as I met with our community at outreach events like Baby Animal Days,

Kids built 'Sod Puppets' at Baby Animal Days and many other events throughout the year.

Raspberry Days, and the county fair. Despite this, only a few people know what a conservation easement is, or that we are working here in Northern Utah to conserve critical land. Northern Utah will realize soon that the open space, farmland, and habitat here are worth saving.

It is our heritage. It is what makes this home.

"Why do you love living here?" I have asked. Most people mention the open space, the small town feel, and the amazing scenic views and access to nature. "If you were to walk ten minutes from your home in any direction, would you experience these values?" When people said yes, it helped them realize which important lands we are trying to save, and why we value them so much.

With our formative years mostly behind us, the technical expertise to place land into protection, and a strategic map in hand to guide us to the most critical lands, we embarked upon a journey for the next five years. We began by talking to our key supporters and learning what you wanted from us as your only local land trust. After meetings with key stakeholders in our mission, we formulated the REACH 2020 plan.

If there is one thing I have learned during my time as a nonprofit professional, it is that nonprofits LOVE acronyms, and we are no different:

R – We have taken on the Responsibility of doing this work, and doing it well. This means hiring professionally paid staff. In July, we brought our part-time Development Assistant on full-time as the Director of Community Engagement. In the next few years, we hope that we will have raised enough funds to hire an experienced Executive Director as well.

 

E – As we spoke to our donors and supporters, people like you, we learned that without exception, you wanted to see greater community Education about conservation . Land use affects everyone, and the public cannot grasp why private lands need to be preserved unless they understand how those lands provide public benefits like scenic open space, critically important and irreplaceable habitat, prime agricultural land and, of course, public recreation like hunting, fishing, and bird watching.

 

A – REACH 2020 is designed to support our organization as we work toward a time when land conservation is funded and supported by the general public. Funding over the next five years will provide us with the Ability to work toward this goal. Furthermore, as opportunities for conservation arise, having a fully functional land trust in place will be pivotal in securing time-sensitive easements.

 

C – Perhaps my favorite letter of REACH, the C stands for Community. In today’s polarized world, it is my hope that Bear River Land Conservancy remains firmly rooted in and organized by the concerned citizens in our community. I tire of the ‘us vs. them’ mindsets so persistent today, and rejoice when I see our board, made up of very different voices (farmers, sportsmen, environmentalists, and community professionals) all working together, striving for our mission. Our mission, our movement, needs to be led by the community itself. BRLC is the only land trust that can say we are truly local, focused on northern Utah.

 

H – Following the advice of one of our former board members, I have realized the importance of including Heritage in our plans. Much of the land we work on was settled by pioneers almost two hundred years ago, and just as important as protecting the legacy left to us, we understand that the lands we save for future generations will become a legacy as well. Our conservation easements are forever, which means that in two (or three, or four) hundred years, we will have left an important heritage behind: private lands providing public, critical values close to home.

 

Five Year Plan

2016: Increase Public Outreach, secure major pledges

2017: Broaden Public Outreach, secure local corporate sponsors

2018: Increase capacity, project load and expertise

2019: Increase community education and public support

2020: Push for broad public support of land conservation and funding

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A fully-grown 'Sod Puppet'

The other thing that I have learned while working for BRLC is that this is your work. Nothing we do, from the habitat creation and restoration on the Bear Riverto the wetland mitigation projectsto the protection of threatened species, would exist without your enthusiastic support and generous donations.

Thank you so much for being part of our community. We look forward to five amazing years of growth and opportunity, in pursuit of a better future.

It is my pleasure to work for you, our supporter, and I know we will be here when the broader community decides to join us in this effort. If you are passionate about our mission, please consider supporting us financially, through volunteer efforts or through board or committee service. Contact us for details.

-Trevor Irish

Director of Community Engagement