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What is Stewardship?

One commitment Chikaming Open Lands makes when creating a nature preserve is to carefully protect and manage the property forever. This process of caring for the land and making sure it keeps its natural integrity for future generations is known as Stewardship. On-the-ground stewardship often differs from preserve to preserve and is dependent on the condition of the natural area, the goals for that site, and the ecosystems present. One thing that does not change, however, is that regardless of how many new properties we acquire, our commitment to stewarding each preserve does not wane.

Caring for Our Protected Properties

The health of our nature preserves is a critical aspect of successful land stewardship, and our restoration practices are crafted with long-term goals in mind.

We practice a wide variety of stewardship techniques to help maintain the natural integrity of our preserves. Our work includes native species plantings, invasive species removal, prescribed burns, plant and animal inventories, water flow restoration, and more. With these stewardship techniques, we are able to preserve high-quality ecosystems, restore degraded habitat, conserve biodiversity, and release these fragile natural areas from many common day pressures. 

Another critical aspect of our stewardship activities is involving the public. Chikaming Open Lands' direct impact on the southwest Berrien County landscape is limited by the number of acres we own. However, by educating our neighbors and inviting them to assist us on volunteer workdays, we not only maximize the amount we accomplish on our properties, we also encourage landowners to practice stewardship on their own land, thereby multiplying our impact. 

These stewardship efforts are long-term projects and continue to be supported by our active Stewardship Program. Funding for these activities comes from grants, donations, and a dedicated Stewardship Fund. 

Volunteer

One of the many ways to get involved with Chikaming Open Lands is to become a volunteer! We have monthly Stewardship Workdays to which the public is invited. Another option is to become a Volunteer Land Steward to help care for one of our preserves.

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Interested? Contact the Chikaming Open Lands office to get more information on how you can volunteer. Contact us at col@chikamingopenlands.org or call (269) 405-1006 and help make a difference today!