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View of green preserve with fluffy white clouds against a blue sky

This past year, CLCC facilitated another series of Regional Advancement Initiative programming in Northeast Connecticut: Inclusive and Accessible Conservation for All.

Building on our previous efforts in this region, this Northeast Advancement Initiative sought to enhance accessibility and inclusivity in land trust trail and program design by bringing the perspectives of diverse user groups to the table as important stakeholders. Through a series of CLCC-led hikes on Joshua’s Trust properties, representatives of three community organizations conducted discussion-based assessments of their respective experiences, providing CLCC with candid feedback on trail accessibility, language barriers, and feelings of welcomeness. A series of recommendations were cultivated from these insights and a roundtable was held where Joshua’s Trust and others were invited to learn and discuss the results of the project.

After the program’s conclusion, Joshua’s Trust proposed a plan to put solutions in place pulled directly from these recommendations and discussions. It is our utmost pleasure to announce that CLCC has awarded Joshua’s Trust an Implementation Grant of $4,000 to carry out their plan.

“Through the program, our organization (staff and trustees) was able to view our properties with a fresh perspective. Hearing the first impressions about a property shook loose our idea that these properties are inherently familiar to the community we serve.”
– Bryan Avery, (Joshua’s Trust Land Protection Manager)

To promote inclusivity and welcomeness, some details of the plan include:

-Increased quantity and visibility of trail signs and boundary markers on six Joshua’s Trust properties
-Adding QR codes to kiosks that provide trail information in Spanish and Mandarin
-Creating new and expanding existing parking areas

Reflecting on the community groups’ feedback, Bryan Avery notes the spark of an organizational shift in thinking regarding a land trust’s role in community identity.

“This deep listening enabled us to redefine the scope of the community we serve, redefine what it means for a property to feel safe and welcoming, and ultimately redefine how we can grow our relevancy moving forward.”

The purpose of each of our Regional Advancement Initiatives is to help engage land trusts to push the needle forward in collaborative work with both conservation and non-conservation partners to expand organizational reach and impact. The steps taken forward by Joshua’s Trust embody the type of open, proactive collaboration we wish to see borne from these Advancement Initiatives. As CLCC plans to expand our programming, we hope more of you in the land trust community are inspired to consider those who have not previously been considered during decisions to create open spaces that are welcoming for all.

CLCC would like to thank Latino Outdoors – CT, The UConn League Walking for Exercise Group, and The CT Black Women Hikers for participating in our accessibility assessments of Joshua’s Trust properties. As well as our project partners at The Last Green Valley and the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut whose generation funding made the Northeast Land Trust Advancement Initiative and Implementation Grant possible.