As stewards for more than 200 properties totaling more than 21,000 acres, our staff spends a lot of time in the field. The standard uniform is a bright-orange field vest that identifies us to all — especially now, during hunting season. For small parcels or short visits, we can pack all we need in the many pockets. What does that include?
Most of what we bring along involves navigation and data collection. In the stewardship department, we formerly used 3-ring binders to hold all the key information needed to visit a property, including maps and other documents. Later, we used GPS receivers, a type of satellite navigation device, along with the notebooks and a compass. More recently, we have come to rely on iPads and similar tablet computers. They have built-in GPS tracking, a camera, and note taking tools, and they can store all our reference materials about the property (instead of the bulky binder). This has greatly lightened our load!
In addition to the tablet, we still bring a traditional compass for finding bearings more accurately and as a backup. We carry a supply of diamond-shaped Monadnock Conservancy boundary signs to replace those that disappear or are chewed by porcupines or hammered by woodpeckers. We bring along nails and a small hammer as well. We may refresh colored flagging along property lines or to identify corner markers. We also may need to recharge — so we bring a spare battery for the tablet and water and a treat for ourselves, such as a baked good!
On the days when the air is thick with biting insects and the ticks are out in full force, we rely on bug repellent to ward off bites and maintain our sanity. Sunscreen is another good idea for protecting skin.
Some things we can’t pack in our vests: a good plan for the visit, curiosity, attentiveness, appreciation for time outside, and a sense of adventure — these are at least as important as what we carry.
– Richard Pendleton, stewardship coordinator for the Conservancy