The 8th annual RCP Network Gathering took place on November 16, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua, NH, bringing together more than 200 land protection professionals and conservation-minded individuals from New England, eastern New York, and beyond. The release of the Wildlands and Woodlands, Farmlands and Communities report in September helped set the context for this year’s theme: broadening the base of support for conservation beyond traditional champions of land protection. The event featured 15 workshops on a wide range of topics, including community conservation, regional planning, successful models of landowner engagement, tools to advance large landscape initiatives, and strategies for building stronger, more resilient partnerships.
Keynote speaker Rand Wentworth launched the day with an interactive workshop rather than a traditional address, facilitating a series of exercises designed to cultivate empathy and help build bridges between diverse community groups and non-traditional partners. The welcoming session also highlighted the catalyzing impact of $1 million of investments in RCPs through two programs of the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust, the RCP Innovation Fund and the Donated Land and Easement Grant program. Prentice Zinn, administrator for the Cox Trust, shared outcomes from these grant programs by the numbers – emphasizing not only the impressive number of acres conserved, but also the tools that RCPs have built to better get their message across, and the ways partnerships have leveraged the funding to highlight their conservation stories and secure matching funds. Cox Trustee Mike Hill announced the award of two additional Blue Sky grants to the High Peaks Initiative and the Mass-Conn Sustainable Forest Partnership, RCPs that have led the way in developing innovative tools and approaches that can be widely shared and replicated across the RCP Network.
The annual meeting of RCP Coordinators, held the day before the Gathering, fostered peer exchange on such topics as climate change messaging, community-based conservation, and the challenges of sustaining partner engagement. An evening presentation by Jonathan Milne, Eastern Program Director at LightHawk, energized RCP leaders by encouraging new opportunities to partner with LightHawk’s donated flights to further large landscape conservation goals.
Click here to view workshop presentations.