An update on the Hudson to Housatonic Conservation Initiative (H2H)

Last fall, the Westchester Land Trust (WLT) launched the Hudson to Housatonic (H2H) Conservation Initiative - a landscape scale, inter-state collaboration of more than three dozen local and regional conservation partners across Westchester, eastern Putnam and Dutchess Counties in New York, and Fairfield County in Connecticut.  H2H is led by WLT, Highstead Foundation (on behalf of Fairfield County Regional Conservation Partnership), Mianus River Gorge and Housatonic Valley Association.

More than 50 conservation leaders from local and regional organizations, including Board members of the Oblong Land Conservancy (OLC) as well as municipal partners in Westchester and Fairfield Counties, took part in a full-day intensive training program on Saturday, February 1st at Teaown Lake Reservation to gain the tools necessary to engage local landowners in the care and conservation of their woodlands.

During the training, leading conservation professionals coached H2H partner attendees in a variety of possible engagement strategies including agroforestry, backyard birding, and estate planning.  The workshop built upon lessons learned at H2H's first workshop in December which focused on aligning stewardship practices with climate resiliency.  A third workshop will focus on proven communication techniques and will be led by a team from Yale University following the Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively curriculum developed by the Sustaining Family Forest Initiative.

The goal of H2H

The vast Hudson to Housatonic region is home to thousands of private woodland owners whose land plays a critical role in providing wildlife habitat, carbon storage, air purification, and buffer tributaries contributing to the drinking water supply for millions of people living in NY and CT.

Many of these woodlands also have attributes making them more adaptable to changes in the climate. H2H documents these key features, harnesses their natural synergies, unites partners across parcel, town, county and state lines.  The activities funded by the H2H initiative are designed to appeal to these woodland owners leading to tangible long- and short-term conservation and stewardship gains.

This project is funded in part through a grant awarded by the, U. S. Forest Service, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry.