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Conservation Neighbor: Ed Easterling

By Donna Schmitz | December 30, 2020
Ed describes the layout of Crestmont Land Trust compared to other oak and prairie restoration sites in the Wren area.
Ed describes the layout of Crestmont Land Trust compared to other oak and prairie restoration sites in the Wren area.

“Conservation gives production a richer purpose,” Ed Easterling says. For Ed, this concept has evolved to include agroforestry with cattle grazing the oak savanna and experimentally limiting grazing during critical times to protect endangered Kincaid’s lupine and provide the essential ecosystem disturbance needed by native forbs and grasses.

In 2012, Ed founded Crestmont Land Trust (CLT), a non-profit land trust with a mission to own and manage self-sustaining habitat with a charitable, recreational, educational, and research focus. CLT currently owns a 172-acre property in the Wren area between the Marys River and Fitton Green, a Benton County natural area. The CLT property has a mosaic of habitat types, which promotes high biodiversity. The area is recognized for having some of the highest quality upland prairie and oak woodlands, with the largest extent of remnant upland prairie and Fender’s blue butterfly and Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly habitat in Benton County.

As with all successful restoration landowners, Ed is an active participant with his field team and has invited resource agencies to the CLT property for advice on management techniques and funding opportunities. “Engaging multiple supportive partners can help stretch limited resources by accelerating timelines and increasing scale.” CLT is enrolled in the USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and has entered into a USFWS Safe Harbor Agreement, which provides support and protection for landowners who assist with the recovery of endangered species. Tom Snyder of USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service  helped Ed see that conservation and agriculture can work collaboratively, and provided funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Benton SWCD has been involved with the project by procuring an Oregon Watershed Enhancement Program restoration grant. These varied sources provide the funds and technical resources to enhance and restore historic upland prairie, oak savanna, and woodlands on the property by removing most encroaching fir trees, thinning oak habitats for healthy woodlands and savanna, providing site preparation, and seeding of native grasses and forbs.

Ed Easterling’s approach to conservation on the land can be described as energetic and filled with enthusiastic optimism. His advice to other landowners considering restoration is: “Enjoy the process because restoration can take many years and stopping midway can leave the situation worse. Be willing to bring in partners for technical and financial help, then be open to experimentation, take responsibility, and accept accountability.

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About the Author

Donna Schmitz

Donna has over 25 years of experience in natural resource management. Currently she assists Benton County landowners who seek solutions to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

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