David Beach | 11/14/07 @ 6:03pm
The region's capacity to conserve nature has been greatly enhanced in recent months by two important developments: the formation of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC) and the Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity.
The nonprofit WRLC is the result of the merger of eight land trusts, including the Chagrin River Land Conservancy (which already was one of the strongest land trusts in the nation), Tinkers Creek Land Conservancy, Medina Summit Land Conservancy, Headwaters Landtrust, Portage Land Association, Bratenahl Land Conservancy, Firelands Land Conservancy, and Hudson Land Conservancy. The leaders of these organizations were able put aside parochialism and turf issues, and they have created a regional entity with the resources to help many more landowners protect their land. This week, the WRLC's land protection fund received a $1 million donation, and the group also announced a deal to protect an ecologically significant 254-acre property in Columbia Township, Lorain County.
"We envision a truly world-class network of preserved land that will enrich our communities forever," says WRLC president Rich Cochran. "In this age of rampant urban sprawl, our mission to preserve these valued natural resource amenities is so urgent and so important, because in its success lies our region's happiness, and because without it, our region will suffer."
The Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity is a broad coalition involving nearly all of the conservation organizations in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania - including park districts and other public agencies, land trusts, and other nonprofit conservation organizations, such as the Nature Conservancy and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The museum is providing overall coordination.
The partnership's goals are to support the work of member organizations, share information, and educate the public about the benefits of biological diversity. Currently, it is beginning to develop a regional conservation plan, which will help guide everyone's conservation priorities, and a regional fund, which will attract more conservation funding to the region.
Both the WRLC and the Partnership for Biodiversity are great examples of thinking regionally. By collaborating on a larger scale and pooling resources, they will be more effective in protecting the best places left in Northeast Ohio.