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Eastern Shore Land Conservancy is committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them.

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Reflecting on the 2022 Maryland Land Conservation Conference

Forever Maryland’s 2022 Maryland Land Conservation Conference was held on June 2nd and 3rd at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club with the theme Celebrating Success, Planning for Change; ESLC’s Stewardship Specialist Michael Dunmyer and Restoration Specialist Larisa Prezioso proudly represented our organization at the conference. The venue’s location, on the shore of the Bay and overlooking the expanse of the Bay Bridge, offered a perfect physical picture of the exact location that each of the conference attendees’ efforts directly impact. Eastern Shore Land Conservancy is no stranger to either success or change, having experienced plenty of both over the past couple of years during the pandemic.   

The morning opening panel titled Climate Change in the Mid-Atlantic was a powerful reminder of the need to take action in the face of climate change’s impacts to our landscapes, and was delivered in an urgent yet inspiring manner. Yes, the Eastern Shore will most certainly be (and currently is) facing consequences of our changing climate, such as erosion, and loss of biodiversity and productive agriculture. However, the actions presented and the clarity of the conversation around the preparations that governments and individuals need to adopt were inspiring. The Keynote from Rick Darke, The Dynamic Nature of Living Landscapes, was wonder-inducing and provoking. Larisa noted that she personally left the day feeling empowered to take a closer look at the “familiar,” and to take inspiration from nature into the every day.  

Each session panel was led by the experts in their field. Our very own Michael Dunmyer gave a presentation during the session Let’s Talk Monitoring: Basics, Tools, Tech, and Innovations with Frank Deuter from Lower Shore Land Trust and Josette Markline from Maryland Environmental Trust. Michael spoke about utilizing technology in stewardship monitoring, highlighting our app software, developed by Fulcrum, and the benefits of utilizing drones to capture aerial imagery of conserved properties.  

Michael Dunmyer presents on the monitoring tools utilized by ESLC staff and volunteers

For Michael, singing the praises of these tools is second nature: adopting the Fulcrum app has allowed both staff and volunteer stewards alike to monitor properties with nothing more than their own smartphones; the software also generates crisp, clear reports based on what our monitors see, cutting back on time-consuming report-writing. Furthermore, the incorporation of drones in 2020 made it possible for ESLC to overcome the setbacks from COVID-19 in monitoring over 300 properties by the year’s end. The novel vantage points and stunning images that drones provide are certainly welcome as well. 

As helpful as these innovations have proven to be, ESLC staff are continuing to explore other ways to modernize easement monitoring, so our Land Team is seeking grant funding to develop drone software tailored for land stewards. From in-flight to high-definition digital mapping, there is no shortage of opportunities to improve our work and we look forward to sharing our ever-growing skillset with the conservation community. 

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