Florida PLAM 2007

I had the pleasure of attending the first portion of Florida's 2008 Public Lands Acquisition and Management Conference this week in Sarasota -- and it wasn't just landing in Gulf Coast Florida weather on the night before the season's first flurries flew back in Charlottesville.

The first event at PLAM was pre-conference Strategic Conservation Workshop sponsored by our partners at the Land Trust Alliance and hosted by the Alliance of Florida Land Trusts. The Alliance's Southeast Region director Chuck Roe emceed the workshop, which was led by longtime conservation professionals Carol Mayes and Sara Wilson teamed with help from Gary Knight, director of Florida Natural Area Inventory (and chair of the NatureServe board of directors, too). The larger-than-expected turnout had other unexpected effects, as the presence of several attendees from Florida's municipal and county government programs made it clear how large a role they play in statewide conservation. This is in contrast to the comparatively small numbers of land trusts in the state -- especially given the unparalleled scale of activity embodied in Florida Forever. This symptom is one that AFLT hopes to address, with the help and support of Chuck and the Alliance.

Lots of good initial contacts that I'll talk about as soon as I can share more specific and relevant details -- we just need to finalize and formalize one exciting aspect of our partnership with the Alliance. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to following up with a number of groups -- the Conservation Trust for Florida, the North Florida Land Trust, and several others. Flying back before the conclusion of the conference meant I didn't get the chance to buttonhole everyone I wanted to, but let it be known far and wide: if you attended the workshop or conference, had an interest in LandScope, and we didn't get to catch up, by all means, feel free to contact me directly. A few of you will have to beat me to it.

One last curiosity: despite the fact that we're both in the DC area, it took a flight to Sarasota for me to run into Aimee Weldon, who joined Defenders of Wildlife a couple months ago to manage their Living Lands program. We're looking forward to sorting out the many opportunities for collaborating with Defenders on LandScope, too!

- Kyle Copas

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