Land News – Fall 2015

Pages from BYLT_News_Fall 2015What’s inside:

  • The Value of Land
  • Beauty of Lone Bobcat Woods
  • What is a conservation easement?
  • 2015 Preserve Tours
  • A New Era
  • Challenges and Solutions
  • Save the Date!

Message from Executive Director Marty Coleman-Hunt

The Value of Land 

“People know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”  Oscar Wilde

It’s difficult to put a value on all the ways that nature enriches our lives.

There are many local and global benefits of living in a community with strong and healthy ecosystems.  We have stronger economies, healthy agriculture and water supplies, and places to recreate – all as a result of so-called “ecosystem services.”

“Ecosystem services” – are a way to think about the benefits nature provides. Some Less-obvious ecosystem services include: plants that clean air and filter water, decomposition of wastes, bees that pollinate flowers and tree roots that hold soil in place to prevent erosion.

Researchers are looking at ecosystem services and how they relate to monetary values.  It turns out, the values go beyond farms and timber.

In the U.S., wetlands are one of the most threatened ecosystems, with a loss of over 50 percent.  Most fish we rely on for food spend part of their lifecycle in wetland habitats. About one-third of North American bird species use wetlands for food, shelter, and/ or breeding. Wetlands retain and control flood waters and wetland plants absorb nutrients and chemicals from the water, acting as a natural filtration system. The loss of wetlands impact recreation and property values.

Local oak woodlands – with only 10 percent protected – are severely threatened by residential sprawl. These foothill environments support the highest animal biodiversity in California with over 330 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.  Most of the state’s water flows through oak woodlands for power supply, human consumption, and healthy fisheries.  Hardwood products and carbon sequestration come from these mid-elevation ecosystems that also provide year-around recreation tourism such as hunting and hiking. Landowners are willing to pay a premium to be located adjacent to protected open space, growing a stronger tax base.

Worldwide, researchers are looking at the benefits of natural ecosystems left intact. A recent article published by YubaNet cited that the U.S loses $6.3 to $10.6 trillion each year because of land degradation. A report by the United Nations University (Canada) found 52 percent of world agricultural land is moderately or severely degraded and the amount of people displaced will constitute the world’s 28th largest country by population.

In most situations the value of ecosystem services and benefits outweigh the cost of remediating land degradation or of conversion to other economic uses.  At the core of the Land Trust mission is to conserve land and to slow the rate of degradation of land resources and the depletion of ecosystems services.  This is accomplished whether we conserve local wetlands, oak woodlands, grasslands, conifer forests or headwaters; or if we encourage local sustainable forestry and agriculture, passive recreation, eco-tourism, livable communities, or restoration projects.

This issue of Land News focuses on 25 years of land conservation progress in our community.  It happens because key individuals took the initiative to make something good happen here.  In the coming months BYLT’s board of directors is beginning to write the next five-year strategic plan.  We would like to hear what you value about land and ecosystems.  You support this land trust with your dollars, your volunteerism and the donation of your development rights on your land.  We are so very grateful and the results are stunning.  We want to be sure we fulfill the responsibilities you have bestowed upon us, for many years to come.

Marty Coleman-Hunt

Download Land News – Fall 2015