As we look forward to a new year, there is an opportunity to reflect on events of the past.Last year, as 2008 turned to 2009, the future seemed uncertain and frightening.As 2009 progressed there were further challenges as joblessness increased, homes lost, retirement savings diminished and state and federal deficits grew.
Today, in 2010, many of these challenges remain.Families, businesses and governments have less money to spend, while many costs continue to rise.Diminished resources force us all to prioritize and focus on those things that are most important.
Even in the face of these difficulties, the end of the year can be a time for hopeful and optimistic actions.At the Upper Valley Land Trust, we have been cheered as landowners and communities came together to make permanent decisions to conserve key aspects of our regionâ€™s landscape in the waning days of 2009.In just the single month of December 2009, seven landowners in the Upper Valley demonstrated their belief that protecting and stewarding the landscape of their region is a top priority.They have done this by donating conservation easements to the Upper Valley Land Trust.These agreements will protect their land from future development and ensure its sustainable management in perpetuity.
More tangibly, a terrific wild blueberry patch, hiking trails, and picnicking area were protected as part of a new town forest in Unity; a sugarbush in Strafford will remain productive for years to come; a Tree Farm managed for songbird habitat in Lyme will persist; and in Hanover, woodcock will continue to enjoy some of the best habitat that the region has to offer.The generosity of Upper Valley landowners, their friends, neighbors, and broader communities, made all of this possible.
Though our economy fluctuates due to forces outside of our control, these special places will remain.Without careful planning for the future, working landscapes, recreational resources, and scenic open space could be lost forever.The New Year seems like an appropriate time to celebrate the forward thinking, generosity, and hope exemplified by many of our neighbors and friends.