Land conservation is celebrated at biennial Red Hills Spring Dinner
By Ofelia Sivyer
Despite windy conditions, approximately 200 guests attended the biennial Red Hills Spring Dinner on Friday, April 10th held on the lawn at Tall Timbers overlooking Lake Iamonia. Tall Timbers honored twenty-nine families who donated conservation easements in 2007-2008 protecting nearly 33,000 acres of land.
The dinner speaker was Rand Wentworth, President of the Land Trust Alliance. Now in its 25th year, the Alliance, based in Washington, DC, provides policy, lobbying, and training services for America’s 1,700 land trusts. Speaking about the current state of land conservation in America during tough economic times, Wentworth quoted Winston Churchill, who said to Parliament during World War II, “Gentlemen, we are out of money. Now we have to think.”
Wentworth remarked that this economic crisis teaches us once again that “we cannot depend on big institutions. Our hopes for economic recovery and for rebuilding our confidence as a nation lie in local solutions – and this is familiar territory for Tall Timbers and for land trusts across the country.”
He commented, “We work on local small scale solutions that are tailored to the particular needs of a local community. What better place to see that in action successfully as right here? Land trusts honor honest durable relationships with people and communities. Land trusts work hard against all odds, little money, and get things done. And land trusts place integrity and fairness above a quick profit.”
He challenged the audience to remember that land conservation matters; it’s not “just a frill.” He further stated, “Is it just something we can live with but we don’t really need? And I think the answer is no. I just read a survey of business owners who recently have relocated their business or dramatically expanded their businesses in new locations. And the vast majority – 80% - said they relocated because of quality of life. And the main determinant of quality of life in their minds was parks, green space, and natural beauty. Green space creates jobs. Green space creates sustainable economies. And in addition, land conservation supports millions of jobs in tourism, agriculture, fisheries, and it provides a host of ecosystem services valued in the trillions each year.”
Wentworth praised area landowners as people who were “following in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt”. He ended his remarks by stating, “America needs land conservation now more than ever, at a time when this country is hungry for new ideas. Land trusts bring hope for a sustainable future and you are making that happen.”
At the conclusion of the evening, Wentworth presented Tall Timbers with a plaque formally awarding the organization with national land trust accreditation. The award capped off a year-long process during which Board and staff completed the detailed application and submitted it along with supporting documents. Wentworth explained that Tall Timbers had gone through a rigorous third party review of the organization and had been found to be “first rate”, adding that the organization was one of the first 50 land trusts among 1,700 to receive this distinguished honor.
Land Trust Alliance President Rand Wentworth (r) presents the national land trust accreditation plaque to Tall Timbers. Pictured left to right are: Tall Timbers Chairman Emeritus, Miss Kate Ireland; TTLC Director Kevin McGorty; Easement Review Committee Chairman Daphne Wood; Vice Chairman Cornelia Corbett; Executive Director Lane Green; Chairman Dave Perkins; and Rand Wentworth.