Otwell Woodlands is an unusually old Eastern Shore woodland of mixed hardwoods and loblolly pines.
Otwell Woodlands Preserve Otwell Woodlands is an unusually old Eastern Shore woodland of mixed hardwoods and loblolly pines. © Ben Herndon for The Nature Conservancy

Newsroom | The Nature Conservancy

New Western Maryland Outreach Specialist to Assist Landowners with Forest and Wildlife Habitat Management

Positive response to Nature Conservancy survey highlighted new opportunities for landowners.

Cumberland, MD

The Nature Conservancy has announced the hiring of a new outreach specialist to assist western Maryland woodland owners who want to increase the benefits and enjoyment they get from their forest land. 

Family Forest Outreach Specialist Kate Livengood will help landowners in Garrett and Allegany Counties find information, financial resources, or expert advice to improve forest health and wildlife habitat on their land. 

Families and individuals own 70% of the forests in western Maryland, so woodland owners play a critical role in conserving Maryland’s forests and the wild creatures that call them home. Threats such as invasive species, insect pests, and drought are damaging forests and degrading wildlife habitat, but addressing these threats can be challenging.  

When you think of everything our forests give to western Maryland—fresh water, clean air, recreation and tourism—it’s clear that keeping them healthy is incredibly important.

To better understand the goals and needs of local landowners, last year The Nature Conservancy distributed a survey by mail to 2,000 western Maryland landowners in possession of 10 acres or more of woodland. 

The survey found that a strong majority of landowners are interested in wildlife habitat and forest health. However, more than half of the respondents to the survey did not have a written plan in place for managing their forests despite the financial benefits that a forest management plan can provide.  Nearly 80% of respondents had never taken advantage of educational resources or expert advice to assist with forest management. 

The Family Forest Outreach Specialist will work to close that gap by referring landowners to the resources that best meet their current needs, such as wildlife habitat restoration, invasive species control, estate planning, or forest stewardship planning.  Kate will perform intake assessments for interested landowners and can help enroll them in programs that will benefit both them and their land. 

“When you think of everything our forests give to western Maryland—fresh water, clean air, recreation and tourism—it’s clear that keeping them healthy is incredibly important,” says U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. “Our region’s private landowners have an incredibly important role to play in making sure our forests are healthy and strong, which is why The Nature Conservancy’s new program to connect landowners with resources that will help both them and our shared landscape through forest management is such a welcome addition.”

Kate Livengood is a lifelong Cumberland, MD resident with a variety of community engagement experience, including the Western Maryland Food Council, Frostburg Grows, University of Maryland Extension, and the Washington Street Library.

Her new position with the Maryland chapter of TNC is part of its growing Resilient Forests Program, which aims to improve forest health throughout the Appalachians.  TNC owns and manages 12 nature preserves in western Maryland comprised of nearly 5,000 acres and has supported sustainable forest management on public land for decades.  In addition to supporting local landowners, TNC has recently added positions to support scientific research into forest health.

Landowners in Garrett County and Allegany County interested in learning more about stewardship or conservation opportunities for their woodland can reach out to Kate Livengood at familyforests@tnc.org or (301) 675-3019. 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.