by Brandon Hollis, Stewardship Director
Each year TILT looks for new and improved ways to implement best management practices when stewarding its fee-owned lands. Over the past 10 years, TILT has enrolled several of its Signature Preserves into different land management programs, attempting to protect and restore some of the most sensitive and ecologically diverse habitats within the Thousand Islands region.
Up until now, these land management projects have taken place solely on TILT’s fee-owned lands - lands which only represent 60 percent of the organization’s total conservation portfolio. TILT also conserves approximately 4,100 acres of private land through the use of conservation easements - privately owned lands which are restricted through environmental encumbrances.
Given the nature and average size of a single easement property, they typically do not lend themselves to a large scale management project. However, within TILT’s conservation portfolio is a unique cluster of easements which protect 95 percent of a 1300 acre island landscape.
Carleton Island, with its fascinating history as a strategic Revolutionary War military asset because of its position so near the international border, and the head of the River, once again finds itself under attack from a foreign invader, the invasive species, Pale Swallow-wort. This invasive plant has the ability to overtake entire landscapes, significantly decreasing biodiversity in both grassland and forest habitats, while outcompeting a variety of native plant species. If left untreated, this aggressive vine-like plant has the potential to consume open fields, climb trees, and even chemically alter the soils in which it grows.
Understanding the magnitude of the impacts, TILT, in cooperation with the residents of Carleton Island, submitted an application for the 2017 Invasive Species Rapid Response and Control Grant administered by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Through this grant, TILT and its partners, would be able to perform three years of active management on the Island, combating the spread of this invasive species via mechanical and chemical applications.
In June, TILT received official notice that the Carleton Island Pale Swallow-wort project has been selected and will receive upwards of $35,000 for on-the-ground management.
This particular project would not have been possible without the continued support and environmental awareness of the Carleton Island residents. We look forward to working with the island residents to ensure the best management possible takes place.