Plavsa/McKenzie: City Folks Answer the Call of the Countryside

When Stevan Plavsa and Megan McKenzie moved from East York to Mono two years ago, the countryside was calling them. Seeking greener spaces and a slower pace, they chose a beautiful fifteen acre property with ten acres of healthy wetlands. The remaining five acres, mostly mowed grass, was a blank slate to make positive changes and live a more sustainable lifestyle. “We want to live as harmoniously as possible with the nature that surrounds us,” said Stevan.

They had lots of ideas. “We wanted to plant trees that would pair well with those already on our property and offer interesting features like berries for wildlife.” But they weren’t sure how to get started until they received a flyer from CVC listing various landowner workshops and restoration services. “As new landowners” said Megan, “(CVC’s) programs helped us to value aspects of conservation and stewardship we never thought of before, things you don’t consider when living in the city.”

They spent that first year gathering knowledge. Attending landowner workshops, creating an Action Plan for their property and site visits from CVC specialists helped to scope the feasibility of various stewardship projects. Stevan and Megan chose to be very hands-on through the planning process, conducting their own research, making lists and consulting often with CVC staff. They also spent time observing the natural features of their new property and how they change through the seasons. “Being able to monitor our stewardship in the years to come is important to us, and we plan to collect data annually to better manage what we are doing moving forward.” They wanted to have a clear understanding of their property’s needs before jumping into a project.

Lisa Brusse, Manager of Landowner Outreach said, “We love it when landowners are this engaged in decisions about their natural spaces. It shows us they are adopting an enduring stewardship ethic. And that means good things for the landscape over the long term.”

During their second year on the property, Stevan and Megan started with a small planting project of 118 trees and shrubs through CVC’s subsidized tree planting programs. Around the same time, they installed a roosting structure for their local bat population. With an abundance of wetland insects for the bats to feast on, it was no surprise that the new structure saw some activity in its first season!  Both of these projects were funded in part through CVC’s Landowner Action Fund which provides grants for stewardship projects on private lands. Their next easy win was simply mowing less of their grass to allow those spaces to re-naturalize and grow. “Watching the native plant species return and accompanying wildlife brings us a lot of happiness and enjoyment”, said Stevan. “We’re less interested in landscaping and more focused on nature-scaping.”

Future plans for Plavsa and McKenzie include restoring a meadow to help grassland birds and pollinators, more tree planting and more habitat structures to help wetland residents like wood ducks, and kestrels. The couple have become true stewards of their land in a very short time, answering the call of the countryside.  Will you?

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