The Franklin Land Trust volunteer monitoring program is composed of area landowners and other community members who volunteer their time to assist FLT's stewardship staff with the annual monitoring of over 130 properties protected by conservation restrictions. The volunteer monitoring program was established in 2012 with the assistance of the MassLIFT/AmeriCorps program, and now operates under the supervision of FLT's stewardship department. As the program's second season begins in fall 2013, FLT has expanded the ranks of its volunteer program to 26 members, and has reached out to include area high school groups.
Figure 1: Volunteers follow a bearing through the woods.
Figure 2: Deerfield Academy students receive field skills training from assistant land steward Joshua Morse.
FLT volunteer monitors work closely with FLT stewardship staff in preparation for taking on field work on behalf of the land trust. During the fall and winter, volunteers receive training in field skills such as navigating with a compass and reading a survey map, and site visit planning and reporting protocols including extracting useful information from a conservation restriction and drafting a thorough monitoring report. In the spring and summer, FLT confers with each volunteer to find a property in need of field work that fits the volunteer's individual capabilities; past property assignments have ranged from 10 acre hayfields to 150 acre woodlots. Once fieldwork is complete, volunteers submit a site visit report to the FLT's stewardship department.
Figure 3: Volunteers follow a property boundary at a training on FLT's 150 acre Guyette Farm property.
The contributions of the volunteer monitoring program to FLT's stewardship mission are significant. In its inaugural year, volunteer efforts accounted for over 25% of completed site visits to FLT conserved properties. Program members also helped raise awareness of the role of FLT in their communities by strengthening the land trust's relationship with owners of protected land.
Individuals interested in learning more about the land trust's volunteer program should contact assistant land steward Joshua Morse.
Figure 4: Volunteers enjoy a free woodcock watching program on conserved land in early spring.