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How are you going to get these people to do conservation?

My younger brother Joe Collins, a great guy, husband, father, mechanic, commercial pilot, and hobby farmer on Maryland’s Eastern Shore called me tonight to talk about the Conserv website…

Joe: Mike, do you want to hear me tell you how great you are or the unadulterated truth?

Mike: Yes Joe, I need the truth, please.

Joe: Mike, I’m waiting for the headline here with this website and I’m not getting it. I mean, where’s the beef?  How are you going to get these people that put properties on your site to engage in conservation? Also, there’s nothing environmentally-special about these that I can see.

Mike: Okay, that tells me a lot. First, Conserv does not exist to get (read: do something environmental that I wouldn’t do otherwise) any landowner to do anything. Because we believe that the marketplace is changing and is beginning to recognize the dollar value of various forms of natural capital, we only want to set up a system to facilitate the changing values of conservation-minded buyers and sellers. If we’re successful, we believe that landowners will be able to make money by protecting and enhancing natural communities. Your second point about the environmental quality is a good one and is harder to answer. We’ll  get them to do conservation because we’ve set up a system that rewards them, financially, to do conservation. Now, the on-line marketplaces we are building are based on two variables; stewardship and environmental asset quality. Version III, the current version of the site, is designed to focus on stewardship as a filter. A future marketplace now under construction, Priority Conservation Properties, will filter properties based on stewardship and asset quality. This portion of the site may also be password protected.

Joe: That’s ridiculous. You’re telling me that people that are going to pay more money for our farm if I put it in the market just because I grow trees along my drainage ditches? Tell you what, go ahead and put it on the site now and I can’t wait to see my 3 million.

Mike: There’s probably not much market value in the trees in the ditch, yet. But, you know how you’ve saved all those loblolly trees that have become Bald Eagle nesting sites?…That might have some real value to some bird watchers/hobby farmers.

Joe: Okay, I get it. But look, I already get paid by CREP for doing good stuff that I wouldn’t do otherwise. Problem is, it’s not enough money to keep doing it.

Mike: Right. It’s not much money. I doubt that is going to change much. But, what if you were pretty sure that a company might want to pay you to keep a portion of your land in timber to sequester carbon that also drains into the river, so that you were paid for the asset value of woods in addition to the nutrient removal value via CREP?  That might add up to some real dollars.

Joe: My dogs are eating some animal, I have to go.

Conserv is in the business of building real estate marketplaces for the 21st century. We’re infrastructure to serve people and organizations and the buying and selling they engage in. I’m glad I have a brother that tells me the truth…at least as he sees it.

- Michael Collins

Michael Collins is the Executive Director of Conserv

He has one brother that lives on a tributary of the Nanticoke River in the Lower Maryland Eastern Shore


One Response to “How are you going to get these people to do conservation?”

  1. Joe Collins Says:


    The site looks great. I think I see a little better where you are going with this concept. A few other things that we do here are manage the place through numerous wildlife plantings for trophy buck, Quail, and Turkey. I’m still trying to determine the feasability and possible benefit of captive propogation of our creek’s clam population, in order to better filter the watershed. By the way, I’m including a different photo. Use it or else I will tell everyone on here what your high school nickname was and why!

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