Expert Advice On Land Management For Wildlife, Brought To Your Doorstep

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Like most things worth doing, land management is tricky. Strategies often have to take into account the fact that invasive species and valuable native species are growing in close-quarters. Budget (both time and money), aesthetics, and wildlife can also be complicating factors, so improving habitat on your property can seem daunting. That’s where the Clifton Institute’s Land Management Outreach Associate Marie Norwood comes in!

In addition to helping manage habitat on the Clifton property, Marie travels to visit private landowners and managers of public land to advise about land management for the benefit of native plants and animals. She helps landowners identify native and non-native plants and declining animals, and she helps people prioritize management actions.

Marie joined the staff in March, 2021. She has a B.Sc. and B.A. from McGill University, where she majored in Organismal Biology and International Development. After graduating, she worked in Colorado conducting terrestrial ecosystem monitoring for the Bureau of Land Management, and in Georgia as a prescribed fire crew supervisor for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

“My favorite parts of my first two jobs out of college were the plant science and ecological restoration themes, so this job seemed perfect,” Maire said. “I also liked the idea of communicating ideas which are normally confined to academia and public land managers to private landowners.”

Marie Norwood surveys a meadow during a site visit.

The Clifton Institute’s specialty is meadows, but Marie also advises on shrublands, forests, and anything related to native species and habitat. She spends a few hours on site with an interested landowner, helps them identify the changes they want to make to their property, and then works with them to come up with a plan to make those changes happen. She includes a written report summarizing the visit, and can help connect landowners to a network of resources and partners.

“These things take a long time and a fair amount of effort,” Marie said. “But in a positive light, any little change is the right direction. There will be little victories, and the sooner you start the sooner you will start to see progress.”

Since the program is still in its early stages, Marie generally travels to properties within an hour of Warrenton, Va., but there’s no charge for her assistance, and she’s happy to be a continuous resource for landowners who have questions after the initial visit.

Marie’s favorite part of her job is meeting landowners (and their pets!) “It’s a major source of hope to me that so many people care deeply about these issues and are willing to take time out of their days to talk about habitats and biodiversity,” she said.

If you’d like to request a free property visit from Marie, please contact her at: mnorwood@cliftoninstitute.org