Written by Lori Boatfield
Photos by Steve Babin 

Lori Pence is a Land Steward at the Land Trust of North Alabama. As a native of Madison County with a longtime appreciation of the outdoors, her work toward the Land Trust’s mission is vital to protect and maintain the area’s extensive natural spaces. 

EVENT: What does a Land Steward do? 

LP: A Land Steward is an ambassador for the Land Trust. I help manage 8,800 acres of land that is broken up into eight different preserves with 70 miles of trail. On a day-to-day basis, I’m educating visitors on our mission, which is to preserve North Alabama’s scenic, historic and ecological resources through conservation, advocacy, recreation and education. 

I also manage trailheads, execute trail design and layout, and work with volunteers on projects. 

EVENT: What inspired you to do this kind of work? 

LP: I have always loved the outdoors. I’ve been a hiker for over 25 years. As a seventh-generation native of Madison County, I feel a deep stewardship to this area. 

EVENT: What types of training have you undertaken to support your career as a land steward? 

LP: I have taken courses for trail design and layout – sustainable building practices; rock work courses to build stairs, retaining walls and armoring washes (creating secure paths across waterways.) I’ve also taken chainsaw courses as well as wilderness first aid. 

EVENT: What is your favorite part of your job? 

LP: I have many favorites, but I would say the best part is working with a small but amazing staff. Sharing the same passion for the outdoors is powerful. 

The past four years of working with the Land Trust of North Alabama has allowed me to support a mission that’s dear to me. I love spending my days in the forest. 

EVENT: Do you have a favorite story or memory? 

LP: Over the last year, as we’ve all tried to navigate the pandemic, we’ve seen an influx of hikers, cyclists and runners on our properties. It’s been very fulfilling to help provide an outlet among these chaotic times and watch people return to their love of nature. 

EVENT: What do you love most about this area? 

LP: We live in a impressive bio diverse area. Helping to protect our forest with the flora and fauna that call it home is one the best feelings. 

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