View of Gibbet Hill – Photo by Joan Wotkowicz

Land Stewardship: Tending Our Lands for Future Generations

As Aldo Leopold expressed it, land stewardship concerns “man's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it." This concept ties directly to our mission to conserve open spaces, as well as to protect, restore, and sustain significant resource lands. Stewardship involves an inner conviction that motivates landowners and land managers to take good care of the land, not merely for personal gain, but for future generations and for the benefit of society. Good land stewardship means responsible management and use of our land, whether our goal is to protect and sustain working forests or farmlands, or to restore and conserve wildlife habitat.

The NRWA encourages land stewardship to protect wildlife habitat and restore natural ecosystems - Photo by Al FuttermanThe NRWA encourages land stewardship through its land protection projects, through its environmental education programs for adults and professionals, through its work to protect wildlife habitat and combat invasive species, and through collaboration with municipal boards, land trusts and other conservation organizations, and individual landowners.

Our unique character-- having a regional view with strong knowledge of local issues-- allows us to work one-on-one with landowners to review their stewardship plan options, to work on community-specific stewardship projects, such as conservation restriction or easement monitoring, and to participate in landscape scale projects that cross municipal boundaries, such as our work with the Squannassit-Petapawag Areas of Critical Environmental Concern Stewardship Committee.

Land Stewardship Plan Options

If you are a Massachusetts forest landowner (including municipalities), consider enrolling in the MA Forest Stewardship Program in order to develop a 10-year forest management plan based on your goals by engaging a licensed consulting forester. Frequently, there are grants from the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation to assist with the cost of a plan if you are enrolling for the first time or upgrading to a Stewardship Plan from a simple Forest Management Plan.

If you are a farm landowner, consider a Farm Conservation Plan prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) to help you focus on your farm’s productivity and sustainability through planning and best management practices.

NRCS will provide technical and financial assistance through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) for part of the cost of establishing and maintaining conservation practices that are necessary for enhancing and improving wildlife habitat and restoring natural ecosystems. Several ecosystems, plants and animals across the Nashua River watershed have benefitted from WHIP assistance; for example, Fruitlands Museum has received two WHIP grant awards to control invasive species and restore an overgrown field.

To learn more about NRWA land stewardship projects, as well as stewardship options for landowners, please contact Al Futterman, NRWA Land Programs Director, at (978) 448-0299, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .