FLT is thrilled to welcome Barbara Miller to the Board. Barb recently retired after a long career with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and lives on a conserved farm in Ashfield. We asked her some questions to get to know her better!
1.Why do you think land conservation is important?
Land conservation is critical at this time in history because our economy sees development as the highest and best use, therefore it compensates the landowner the most when they need to redeem equity. So, to preserve important farmland and unique landscapes and habitats, it is necessary to work withing the current economic model, i.e. purchase those assets. In the future, if the economy recognizes the public benefits provided by properly managed land through adequate compensation, another model may emerge, but we are a long way from that at this time.
2.What about the work of FLT motivated you to join the board?
Being a long-time landowner of both farm and forest, I have personally grappled with the issues surrounding the affordability of land and the options available to landowners. While working at NRCS, I was intimately involved with the Federal land protection programs, and found that this was what I was drawn to most of my many and varied duties. Having retired 20 months ago, I find that I do miss staying current on the issues surrounding land conservation and protection. Joining the board at FLT provides an outlet for my interests, and I believe my experience will make me a valuable asset to the board.
3.How long have you lived in Franklin County? How has it changed since you have lived here?
My husband and I moved to Franklin County in 2003, from our dairy farm in NY state. While working at NRCS, my job focused on the entire state of Massachusetts, so I witnessed changes throughout the state. In my very limited observations, it seems that Franklin County, for better or worse, has changed little, providing the opportunity to secure valuable conservation lands before they are lost. This is probably more due to the economy than other factors, but it is still a rural/forested area and very appealing.
4.What do you like about living in Ashfield?
This town and area combines my love of both agriculture and more wild lands. While not true wilderness, many forests and fields in the region have the feel of being very wild and distant. I enjoy being able to walk out our door and have this experience.
5.What did you enjoy about working at NRCS?
I enjoyed working at NRCS because it is a rare Federal agency that works on private lands and is able to be on the front line in translating good land conservation to the public. In my position I was able to partner with many state agencies, NGOs, and others to work toward our common goals.
6.What is your favorite scenic view in our region, or your favorite place?
There are many great views in the region, I don’t know that I have a favorite. My favorite places are along some of the hidden streams in the vast woods of the area. I prize our native brook trout, as they are a symbol of a relatively healthy system, so I like pursuing their habitats.
7.What is your favorite season and why?
This is tough one, since one of the attractions of New England is that there are four great seasons. I really enjoy them all for different reasons and look forward to each one as the current one wanes. I could not live without winter and cold weather, so the attraction of going south never occurs to me, but moving north? Maybe.
8.Can you drive a tractor?
I can drive a tractor, and have spent countless hours on one, but am not crazy about it.
9.What is your favorite bird?
Another tough one. I appreciate so many birds because they are indicators of the surrounding landscape, so you know what to expect in vegetation, etc. Bald eagles always take my breath away, along with the calling of loons. I stop to see a pileated woodpecker fly over, and could go on about many others. But the one I think I respect the most when I look out the window on a sub-zero day in winter is the black-capped chickadee at the feeder, and marvel that it doesn’t freeze solid where it stands.
10.What are you watching on TV or reading right now?
I am not much of a television watcher, I will knit while my husband picks the shows, to keep company. I like long sagas when reading at the moment, and am double-fisting it with reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and a Cormac McCarthy trilogy.