A Place in Between – Collaboration for a Healthy Landscape between the Adirondacks and Green Mountains
A Place in Between is a collaborative effort through the Staying Connected Initiative and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The goal was to create a platform from which all the environmentally-focused organizations within a particular geographic boundary (the region between the Green Mountains and Adirondacks) could visualize the work of all others, determine whether there was overlap of goals and strategies between groups, look for gaps in geography and focus, and begin a conversation about collaboration in efforts to reach landowners and other groups within the region. The idea for this project stemmed from the realization that numerous organizations, despite having differing interests and immediate goals, are ultimately protecting the same landscapes and conducting outreach to the same individuals--and yet they aren't necessarily fully aware of the work of all the other organizations. Thus, partnerships between these organizations are crucial to efficiently conserving or maintaining a healthy landscape. The Place in Between initiative focuses on a region in Rutland and Addison County in Vermont and in Washington County in New York. This region, labeled as the 'Adirondacks-Southern Green Mountains Linkage' by the Staying Connected Initiative, is especially important ecologically, because it is one of the few remaining unfragmented areas of forest habitat between the two mountain ranges.
The Staying Connected Initiative and Wildlife Conservation Society organized a meeting with any interested organizations (town conservation commissions, regional planning commissions, regional nonprofits, etc.) in the area, with the goal of creating a series of maps which would detail the geographic areas that groups serve and what they focus on. By seeing the results, organizations could improve their efficiency by decreasing overlap with other similar organizations, identify gaps in the region that no organization was currently filling, and begin a conversation about how to conduct outreach efforts that benefit a wide range of organizations together.
Barton, Benson, Brandon, Hubbardton, Middletown Springs, Orwell, Pittsford, Poultney, Sudbury, Tinmouth, Wallingford, West Haven
Forest Land, Land Management, Land Protection, Outreach, partnerships, water, wetland, wildlife
This meeting produced a series of maps which portrayed the location and focus of each organization, highlighted potential opportunities for collaboration, and identified common themes among the organizations. The organizations were categorized by the scope of their work into five activity types: wildlife and natural resource science; intersection of roads and the natural landscape; technical assistance to municipalities; land management and natural resource protection; and aid and assistance to landowners. Three resource guides for local landowners were suggested at the meeting and later created: one for Vermont, one for New York, and one for the entire linkage area. These guides acted as directories for land-based work conducted in the region. The idea was that any of the organizations could distribute the guides when conducting outreach to landowners in the region as a means of letting landowners know the most appropriate organizations to contact for any given need.
Agricultural Stewardship Association
Champlain Area Trails
Champlain Valley Conservation Partnership
Champlain Valley Natural Heritage Partnership
Champlain Watershed Improvement Coalition of New York
Cornell Cooperative Extension, Warren County
Empire State Future
Lake Champlain Basin Program
Lake Champlain ' Lake George Regional Planning Board
Lake George Association
Lake George Land Conservancy
Middletown Springs Conservation Commission
Nancy Kimball, Wildlife Rehabilitator
Natural Resource Conservation Services
New England Forestry Foundation
New York Department of Environmental Conservation
New York Department of Transportation
Poultney-Mettawee Natural Resource Conservation District
Rutland Natural Resource Conservation District
Rutland Regional Planning Commission
Salisbury Conservation Commission
Southern Adirondacks Audubon
The Nature Conservancy - New York Chapter
The Nature Conservancy - Vermont Chapter
Tinmouth Keeping Track
Tinmouth Land Trust
Vermont Agency of Transportation
Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife
Having a leader (Monica Przyperhart) who could dedicate time to the project as part of her regular job was critical. Funding for this project was provided by the Lake Champlain Basin Program's Opportunities for Action program.
This project played an important role as a one-time meeting, but there was also interest in creating a long-lasting partnership among organizations in the region, and this lasting partnership didn't materialize due to a lack of ongoing leadership. Not long after the synthesis document was created, the funding for the coordinator position ended, and the partnership no longer had a paid staff member who could dedicate time to continued engagement by the partner organizations. Additionally, the meeting likely would have had more participants if organization partners could have been compensated for their time and effort.