For many of us, surviving the recession was the primary focus of our business and personal lives the last two years. The Wood-Land-Lakes Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council did not escape the effects of the worst economic downturn since the great depression. USDA cut all funding to RC&Ds, which resulted in loss of office space and USDA employees.
“Wood-Land-Lakes RC&D still exists today only because of the continuing dedication of a volunteer council to the primary purposes and values of resource conservation and sustainable development activities,” explained John Hulewicz, President of Wood-Land-Lakes.
Wood-Land-Lakes is operating entirely on voluntary contributions. “Much of the physical office has been moved to ParGil Natural Resources Learning Center in LaGrange, with most of the day-to-day operations being conducted from the homes of Council members and our part-time staff person, Lisa Ledgerwood,” Hulewicz stated.
The council has developed a new strategic plan that focuses Wood-Land-Lakes’ efforts primarily on land trust activities. “While consolidation of projects has occurred, Wood-Land-Lakes remains open and interested in projects relating to its goals and core values of promoting land conservation; strengthening water quality and quantity management; expanding rural community development; and stimulating land protection and management,” Hulewicz said.
The Wood-Land-Lakes Land Trust continues to experience growth. “The trust now has 20 donated conservation easements, protecting over 9,100 acres in northern Indiana; and, has three more farms representing another 500 acres working through the conservation easement process,” said Wood-Land-Lakes Land Trust Chairman Mike Yoder. To learn about a few of the farms protected for future agriculture production visit the Wood-Land-Lakes website at www.wood-land-lakes.org.
The Wood-Land-Lakes Land Trust Committee is looking for a few additional volunteers for monitoring easements and evaluating new farms. Yoder encourages anyone who may be interested in becoming involved in land trust or council activities to contact the office.
Wood-Land-Lakes RC&D accepts charitable contributions to assist in covering annual operating expenses. Donations can be earmarked for specific purposes such as general operating funds or Land Trust activities. Wood-Land-Lakes is a section 501(c)3 nonprofit organization; therefore, donations are tax deductible (in compliance with IRS regulations). Checks, made payable to Wood-Land-Lakes RC&D, can be mailed to the office at 155 Lane 101 West Otter Lake, Angola, IN 46703.
For more information about Wood-Land-Lakes, visit www.wood-land-lakes.org or call (260) 665-7723.