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Thread: Opportunities for FPVers to volunteer with land trusts?

  1. #1
    Navigator halifax's Avatar
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    Opportunities for FPVers to volunteer with land trusts?

    Hi Friends,

    I'm an ecologist working in New England. I've been an RC pilot for 10 years (fixed wing and rotary) and a ham radio op (DC to microwave) for 20 years and have just started working with multirotors with camera mounts.

    I've been working in the land trust business for over 20 years, and one of my roles is to conduct inspections of land trust properties and conservation easements. Now that I've got some multirotor time under my belt, I'm just starting to use the ship for property/easement inspections and photodocumentation of the same. This is an outstanding application for FPV/aerial platform flying.

    Most land trusts in the US are required to conduct annual inspections of their properties and the conservation easements that they hold under IRS regulations and by a national accrediting body. This is challenging for a number of reasons including a lack of staff capacity (this is a non-profit business), lack of volunteers, and in many cases, the size of the land catalogs, among other factors.

    I'm just starting to collect information on the use of this technology for land trust property inspections with the ultimate intention of writing journal articles and presenting workshops on the application (not on how to fly). Land trusts can also use the video and stills for PR work, too.

    If anyone has any experience or interest in using FPV/aerial cams for land trust work, ranch inspections, farm inspections, and the like, or knows of a land trust that might be interested in such work, post here with what you know or of your interest. After some discussion here and on the national land trust list, I will put together an intro letter and bullet-point sheet for flyers to use when approaching a land trust for this kind of volunteer work. I can also help fliers identify the land trusts in their area or state and, perhaps, start to compile a list of trusts that may be interested.

    So let's see if we can get something going that both helps non-profit land conservation and gives us more opportunities to put this technology to work.
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  2. #2
    could quit if I wanted to volto's Avatar
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    Sounds interesting. Tell me more, what are the inspections supposed to reveal?
    Don't steal, the government hates competition.

  3. #3
    could quit if I wanted to volto's Avatar
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    Hmm the wikipedia article made it a little more clear... still reading.

    Although a conservation easement prohibits certain uses by the landowner, such an easement does not make the land public. On the contrary, many conservation easements confer no use of the land either to the easement holder or to the public. Furthermore, many conservation easements reserve to the landowner specific uses which if not reserved would be prohibited. Some conservation easements confer specific uses to the easement holder or to the public. These details are spelled out in the legal document that creates the conservation easement.
    Also found this; http://www.ccalt.org/
    Don't steal, the government hates competition.

  4. #4
    Navigator halifax's Avatar
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    That's correct, volto. Conservation easements protect land typically owned by a private landowner. Land trusts own a share of the property rights ... a "non-possessory" property right ... typically the development rights and the protection of conservation elements on the property, as defined by the conservation easement document that is signed by the grantor (landowner) and the grantee (the trust) and filed in the town land records (and county/state land records in some jurisdictions).

    Conservation easements typically do not allow public access. The land trust has the right of entry, usually with landowner notification, to inspect and document the property condition on an annual basis and to perform research work, etc. We also provide advice to landowners who want to enhance the conservation values of the land. And when a landowner exercises a reserve right defined in the easement (such as forest harvest), the land trust usually has the right to review the forestry plan and inspect the harvest operation for compliance with the easement and the agreed-upon forestry plan. There are also Forever Natively Wild conservation easement that some landowners want ... these are true wildlife and forest preserves with a minimum of human intervention allowed. Not common, but they exist.

    Thanks for your interest.

  5. #5
    Navigator halifax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by volto View Post
    Sounds interesting. Tell me more, what are the inspections supposed to reveal?
    volto,

    Here is a quick list of the elements of an inspection:

    Boundaries or other areas vulnerable to encroachment.
    The yard/easement interface.
    Roads and other access ways.
    New trails or access points.
    Flagging (could be from original survey or a sign of upcoming activity).
    Areas of recent activity permitted by the easement.
    Signs of disturbance (e.g., excavation, vegetation distress, dumping, tree felling).
    Indicators of property conditions (e.g., erosion, invasive species, water quality).
    Activity in or around building areas (existing or reserved) if applicable.
    Areas heavily used by landowners or by the public.
    Stream banks and lake shores, if restricted by the easement.
    Evidence of illegal ATV use.

    I see that you are in Colorado. There are some trusts out in your world that have just massive catalogs. They probably do a lot of aerial surveying on an annual basis, with on-the-ground inspections every couple of years. I can envision using the aerial platforms on the big ranches and farms out there... open land is very suitable for our machines.

    The Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust is one of the largest trusts in the country. I see from their webpage that they have 400,000 acres of ag/ranch easements in their catalog. They are also an Accredited Land Trust under the Land Trust Alliance's certification program, which means that they are obligated to get their inspection work done every year. They might be a good first contact for us... great find. I will give their stewardship manager a call next week and report back here.

    Kind regards,
    halifax
    Last edited by halifax; 10th May 2013 at 08:31 PM.

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    halifax,

    This application seems to be right in line with a suggestion I made awhile ago over at diydrones regarding volunteer projects.

    http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/...using-drones-1

    I have a lot of experience in unmanned aircraft (retired aerospace engineer) and I am just getting back into model aircraft with the goal of doing volunteer work. I expect to be ready to do some project later this year and this type of application seems to be just what I am interested in doing.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by volto View Post
    Sounds interesting. Tell me more, what are the inspections supposed to reveal?
    Anything that may effect it's value; that only an inspection can reveal.

  8. #8
    Navigator halifax's Avatar
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    A local land trust in Connecticut lost a 250-year-old white oak last week and we shot this PR image for them. Note the scale ... one person near the trunk and another on the farm path.
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    Last edited by halifax; 21st May 2013 at 07:36 AM.

  9. #9
    could quit if I wanted to volto's Avatar
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    Free firewood?
    Don't steal, the government hates competition.

  10. #10
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    Volunteer, non profit, real use for photos/video, a reason to fly ? sounds fun to me.. All I got around me is farmland..

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