For wildlife on a beautiful 32-acre property in Mount Airy, Maryland, life is sweeter—and safer—because of the pledge landowners Jennifer Bevan-Dangel and Andrew Dangel made to follow the Humane Stewardship Alliance’s humane stewardship principles in managing their land. Lands of all sizes can be managed to help wildlife.

Most of the acreage of Legacy Springs Farm is a balance of wooded habitat and open pasture, providing for a range of species, and two small streams and a spring add to its value for wildlife. Jennifer and her husband often see white-tailed deer, Cooper’s hawks, pileated woodpeckers and red foxes on their land. The more secretive gray fox likely also lives here. In nesting season, she says the air thrums with the joyful chatter of barn swallows, as they gracefully soar and swoop through the open pasture to catch flying insects. Wildflowers and garden flowers attract monarch and swallowtail butterflies. And at night, bats search the skies, snapping up mosquitoes. Winter brings juncos, white-throated sparrows and other birds to the land.

Soon after acquiring the property in 2019, Jennifer began looking for ways to enhance habitat for wildlife. Maryland Trout Unlimited—an organization seeking to restore trout habitat by planting native trees along streams to reduce water temperatures—assisted with applying for a Chesapeake Bay Trust grant for native tree planting, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Through the CBT and MD DNR’s “Healthy Forest Healthy Waters Planting” initiative, 7.5 acres of the property were planted with 2,600 native trees in 2020. The planting is on a steep slope of the property, leading down to the stream, so the trees include a carefully chosen mix of upland species (Allegany chinkapin, tulip poplar, white oak, indigo bush and redbud), lowland species (sycamore, river birch, silky dogwood, hazel alder and bald cypress) and pollinator species (persimmon, American plum, paw paw, serviceberry and hazelnut). In a handful of years, these trees will provide shade for trout and food, cover and nesting habitat for other wildlife.

Wild animals have a safe and increasingly diverse realm here in which to flourish. And by following humane stewardship principles, these caring landowners—and all HSA members—are helping others to the see and consider the joys and benefits of living in harmony with wildlife.

Discover how you can help wildlife through membership in the Humane Stewardship Alliance.