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For more than 100 years, local leaders in communities across America have been working to save the riverbanks, meadows, woodlands, deserts, family farms, ranches and other natural lands that are treasured places in their community.

Then the leaders seized a powerful idea: to combine the local knowledge of people and places, the flexibility of the private sector, and the energy of volunteerism into one and they formed Land Trusts. Today there are approximately 1700 local and regional land trusts working in communities across America.


  • A land trust is a nonprofit organization that, as all, or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land or conservation easement acquisition, or by its stewardship of such land or easements.

  • Land trusts work with landowners and the community to conserve land by accepting donations of land, purchasing land, negotiating conservation agreements on land (conservation easements), and stewarding conserved land through the generations to come.

  • A land trust works for conservation instead of generation of profits through land sales.

  • Most land trusts are community-based and deeply connected to local needs, so they’re well-equipped to identify land that offers critical natural habitat as well as land offering recreational, agricultural and other conservation value.

How does a Land Trust work?

Land trusts work to implement three fundamentally American ideals:


  • Volunteerism

  • Community spirit

  • Connection to the land


By holding land or conservation easements on land with high conservation value, land trusts counter the economic model of poorly planned development and sprawl.  Land trusts communicate and demonstrate the powerful benefits of land on our lives and on the human spirit.

Making an impact.

The idea to work together to maximize resources has spread rapidly. Today there are 1,700 land trusts that have nearly 350,000 volunteers, 15,000 board members, 12,000 staff members and 5 million members!  As of 2010, land trusts have conserved more than 47 million acres of land in America – an area roughly the size of all the New England states combined.


Resource: This information is from the Land Trust Alliance website ( The Land Trust Alliance is the voice for the national land conservation community. Desert Foothills Land Trust is a member of the Alliance. In 2010, we were accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Alliance.

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