Conservation Go Point
By Chris Gonso
2013 will see a new effort by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry to reach out to the state’s woodland owners and connect them information concerning protecting and managing their forest. As a woodland owner, you may be contacted as part of this initiative, which is funded in part by the US Forest Service, Northeastern Area.
Using assembled county geospatial and tax payer data, forested parcels larger than 10 acres will be matched with unique mailing addresses and sent a postcard briefly describing conservation funding and tax incentives that are available as well as announcing a forest alert system that landowners will have the option to sign up for online. The postcard will direct landowners to the “Conservation Go Point” web page hosted by the DNR.
On the Conservation Go Point website landowners will be invited to share their email address and receive information according to their interests and customized to their acreage location, forest type, and other spatial attributes. This will enable ‘DNR Resource Alerts’ to be sent to landowners if there is an immediate danger to their forest resource, like a neighboring landowner who has the invasive plant kudzu, a nearby outbreak of Asian long-horned beetle, or a combination of severe drought pocket and dangerous forest type for wildfire. It will also allow for highly targeted announcement of field days and workshops and improve awareness of grant funding eligibility based on a parcel’s attributes.
It is estimated that Conservation Go Point postcards will be sent to 60,000 forest landowners that aren’t already a part of the Indiana Classified Forest & Wildlands system. As such, there is tremendous opportunity to make gains statewide in the protection and conservation of Indiana’s forests. It is hoped that this effort will help to bridge the gap that currently exists between many landowners and the varied and successful conservation and forest management programs that exist and help keep our forests working and providing the benefits we desire.
Chris Gonso is an Ecosystem Services Specialist with the Indiana Division of Forestry. Chris works toward developing landowners’ abilities to receive payment for ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, water quality and biological diversity. In addition to these duties, he has worked with statewide forest planning, grants and alternative funding sources.