Posted by: Reena Ramos

  • 03/06/2019

Scaling up: growing land management with diverse financial support

ACRES Land Trust’s land management efforts are growing. With your support, new heavy equipment is at work in the preserves – pulverizing non-native invasive plants and boosting our restoration and enhancement work.

An end-of-year match provided by The Cairn Foundation boosted fundraising efforts to pay off equipment costs and purchase a new, stronger truck to haul it. Results are in:

267 donors pitched in, giving a total of $80,782 to purchase:

  • A forestry mulcher to grind up large non-native invasive brush
  • A grapple attachment for our skid steer to help pick up large debris
  • Front and rear rotary cutters for non-native invasive control and access
  • A tractor and UTV sprayers to apply herbicide, fighting non-native invasive plants
  • A bigger, stronger pick-up truck and a trailer to haul it all safely

Thanks to your investment, our team’s efforts will go further, faster.

Diverse, Designated Funding

The 2018 end-of-year boost in support was preceded by a variety of unique funding investments.

In late 2017, a surprise mitigation funding offer from NiSource not only helped acquire 96 acres* within the confluence of the Wabash and Salamonie Rivers, near our Kokiwanee preserve, but it also paid for ACRES’ first heavy equipment, to tackle thickets of non-native invasive plants.

ACRES’ skid steer, as well as a small trailer to haul it, allowed us the chance to boost our efficiency managing land.

“We’re scaling up, rapidly accelerating land management to meet the demands of our ever-increasing acreage,” said director of land management Casey Jones, at the time. “A variety of funding sources and our members make it possible to invest in caring for land.”

Since this time, Jones and the land management crew have been able to purchase and put to use additional equipment. The team is in awe of their newfound efficiency and capability.

The Land Management team, l to r: Evan Hill, specialist; Casey Jones, director; and Matt Dunno, specialist.

In the spring of 2018, a bequest from the estate of Patricia Barrett to the Barrett Land Management Endowment combined with support from restoration funding programs, made it possible for ACRES to hire a second full-time land management specialist: Matt Dunno joined Evan Hill in the field. Hill was hired in a newly created position made possible through restructuring as recently as 2016.

Suddenly, with investment, ACRES’ manpower in the field doubled, where previously, ACRES paid contractors to perform site-specific restoration work. ACRES began to take a new view on its restoration and enhancement efforts.

“By hiring our own staff and investing in our equipment, rather than a contractor’s crew and heavy machinery, we can manage more land, more efficiently and responsively, well beyond a particular project or place,” said Jason Kissel, executive director. “We’re gaining all-around efficiency by making use of these funds internally.”

ACRES also earned support from 2017 Blue Jean Gala donors who helped purchase a utility vehicle, saving time and labor in hauling equipment and workers in the preserves.

Thank you for your continued support as the face of ACRES’ Land Management changes.

*These lands are being conserved, in part, by funding and technical assistance made available as mitigation for habitat impacts anticipated to arise through construction for the Greentown Reynolds Transmission Line in partnership with the ACRS Land Trust and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.