Photo by Casey Stemler/USFWS

It's The Land, S****d!

The title of my introduction to the PPJV Newsletter has an unfinished word. I will not use the actual word; I find it demeaning since it implies a person isn’t smart. Yet, given we are in a presidential election year a certain phrase popped into my mind. I’m sure most, if not all of you, remember a phase used in 1992 by James Carville, a campaign strategist for a presidential candidate. He coined the phrase, “it’s the economy, s****d” and this was repeated over and over during the campaign for what became a successful bid for the White House. If you ever learn one thing about politics, repeatedly stating your “rallying” cry is a common and often successful strategy because people who hear it begin to believe it. I wonder if those of us working in land conservation need to think about employing such an approach?

A primary purpose of Joint Ventures is to work with a variety of partners to protect, restore, or enhance the land for birds. Nevertheless, we recognize the work we do across the PPJV landscape provides benefits well beyond birds (e.g., water quality, quantity, carbon sequestration). Despite the tremendous efforts we make to protect and improve the land, we seem to falter when it comes to sharing a broader message that is appealing to those who don’t comprehend their necessary connection to the land. This reminds me of a common discussion point heard more regularly years ago – “some people think that eggs come from a grocery store.” Unfortunately, too many people in our society don’t understand basic connections with natural resources. If this line of thinking is common today, our society has much work to do to address this frightening challenge. With this in mind, I ask, “what role can we play as a joint venture and larger conservation community to help educate our society on the importance of “It’s the Land”? Many of you are taking actions to address this challenge, but I ask, “What can we do that is revolutionary? What can we do that is outside the box of our normal thinking? What is our ‘rallying’ cry?”

The answers to these questions will not specifically be found in this edition of the PPJV newsletter, so for now they but rather serve as words to provoke thought and discussion. What you will find in this edition of the PPJV newsletter is partners sharing their stories on how they are taking action to protect and restore land within the PPJV. In addition, as you will read, connecting people to butterflies is one avenue a number of our partners are following to help others appreciate the connection to the land.

When thinking about “the land” it seems fitting to include a “Partner Profile” focused on Ducks Unlimited. Ducks Unlimited (DU) began land conservation in the 1930’s and their efforts have stretched throughout North America. The PPJV is very fortunate to have a DU Regional Office within the boundaries of our JV. Their partnership and effectiveness is invaluable to the success of the PPJV and land conservation across this continent, particularly in the prairie states.

In closing, as you pass undeveloped open spaces this summer think about the values those places provide, beyond wildlife habitat, and how each of us can communicate those values beyond our circle of family and friends. Share your ideas and thoughts!

May you be safe and find enjoyment this summer season!

-Casey Stemler, PPJV Coordinator