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What exactly is stewardship?

The Hill Country Steward
By Central Texas Conservation Partnership 

Despite the heat, drought and occasional ice storms, living in the Texas Hill Country is pretty great.

We all want our own little piece of Texas, but once we have it, then what? I doubt that anyone who owns property, no matter what size, would say that it is perfect and there isn’t a single thing they would change. The truth is, there are always things that can be done to improve the health and functionality of our land. And most of these things don’t just happen on their own. They require active stewardship.

But what exactly is stewardship? Stewardship is the conservation of a property’s natural resources and features over a long period of time. It may sound simple enough, but there is actually quite a bit to unpack when it comes to stewardship. Let’s start with that first part – conservation. Conservation is basically being responsible for what we have. It is based on a relationship of thoughtful care and involves bringing together the proper land management principles in a balanced approach for the enhancement of the land. This can sometimes be confused with preservation, which is simply protecting something as it is and keeping it from being changed. Good stewardship requires action, continually making progress to improve the land while caring for and making the best use of the natural resources that are there. 

Then there is the time component. Stewardship isn’t just a one-and-done activity, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to make changes and see the results. Good land stewardship is patient, taking time to account for and adapt to changes in the environment, climate and landowner objectives, among other things. There is no one-size-fits-all (and definitely no easy button) when it comes to stewardship. It is a constant, ongoing process of learning and making the best conservation decisions in order to meet current goals and objectives. As a result, healthy stewardship is not a rigid set of principles – it’s a flexible approach to land management, tailored to individual landscapes and needs.

This may all sound a bit more daunting than it did at first, but there is some good news. You don’t have to do it all on your own! You have a whole host of natural resource professionals standing by to answer questions and provide guidance as you embark on your stewardship journey. Instead of going it alone, lean on the expertise of people who have devoted their lives to ensuring the Hill Country that we call home is cared for and made better for future generations. To learn more and connect with folks who care about your piece of Texas just as much as you do, visit www.texasconservation.org. If you have questions related to stewardship or conservation, you can email them to DearStew@texasconservation.org and you might just see them answered in a future column. Be sure to come back next month as we dive into stewardship in the face of this drought! Looking forward to learning more with you. – The Hill Country Steward

The Hill Country Steward – not a person, but a partnership of local experts dedicated to sharing the best information, tips, and lessons learned. Have questions? Send them to DearStew@texasconservation.org. Learn more at www.texasconservation.org.

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