A land conservancy purchases the development rights on 80 acres along the river. A township parks department buys a new piece of land. The state owns a 1000 acre property. This land and water is now protected, right? Sadly, the answer is no.
We used to think purchasing land and setting it aside was enough to protect it and the nearby waters. We now realize that in order to preserve the ecological and cultural value that made these properties valuable in the first place, we have to care for them. This means active land management to preserve the native spring wildflowers; informed stewardship to keep the migrating birds returning; cutting-edge information to inform us of new threats to our natural lands and waters; and knowledgeable volunteer stewards to protect the quality of our water.
The Michigan Natural Features Inventory estimates that since the mid-1800s,
Michigan has lost more than 99% of its prairies, savannas and oak barrens. What remains of our prairies, savannas, oak barrens and other important natural areas is owned by dozens of groups, both public and private, and by hundreds of individuals. These natural areas are fragmented in isolated patches, with little or no oversight.
That’s where the Stewardship Network plays a role. We help groups and individuals think differently about stewarding natural lands and waters. We train volunteers and professionals in science-based stewardship practices. We link conservation groups to preserve our natural and cultural heritage.