The Land Trust Movement in America
Publication Year: 2013
American land trusts are diverse, shaped by their missions and adapted to their local environments. Nonetheless, all land trusts are private, non-profit organizations for which the acquisition and protection of land by direct action is the primary or sole mission. Nonconfrontational and apolitical, land trusts work with willing land owners in voluntary transactions.
Although land trusts are the fastest-growing and most vital part of the land conservation movement today, this model of saving land by private action has become dominant only in the past two decades. Brewer tells why the advocacy model--in which private groups try to protect land by promoting government purchase or regulation-- in the 1980s was eclipsed by the burgeoning land trust movement. He gives the public a much-needed primer on what land trusts are, what they do, how they are related to one another and to other elements of the conservation and environmental movements, and their importance to conservation in the coming decades. As Brewer points out, unlike other land-saving measures, land trust accomplishments are permanent. At the end of a cooperative process between a landowner and the local land trust, the land is saved in perpetuity.
Brewer's book, the first comprehensive treatment of land trusts, combines a historical overview of the movement with more specific information on the different kinds of land trusts that exist and the problems they face. The volume also offers a "how-to" approach for persons and institutions interested in donating, selling, or buying land, discusses four major national land trusts (The Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, American Farmland Trust, and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy); and gives a generous sampling of information about the activities and accomplishments of smaller, local trusts nationwide. Throughout, the book is enriched by historical narrative, analysis of successful land trusts, and information on the how and why of protecting land, as well as Brewer's intimate knowledge of ecological systems, biodiversity, and the interconnectedness of human and non-human life forms.
Conservancy is a must-read volume for people interested in land conservation--including land trust members, volunteers and supporters--as well as anyone concerned about land use and the environment.
Published by: Dartmouth College Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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More than a decade ago, several citizens concerned with the loss of openspace, natural land, and farmland in southwestern Michigan began to talkabout starting an organization to counteract that unfortunate trend. We metthrough the summer of 1991 and incorporated in October. All over the na-tion, others with similar thoughts were banding together. The Southwest...
Introduction: Saving Land the Old-Fashioned Way
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Land trusts, also called conservancies, are private nonproﬁt organizationsthat protect land directly, by owning it. They are the most successful and ex-citing force in U.S. land conservation today and perhaps the most effectivecomponent of the whole environmental movement. The history of land con-servation in the United States has been protection by government through...
1 | History
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Land conservation, like jazz, is an American invention. The idea was a re-sponse to the rapid, ongoing destruction of the natural landscape in the sec-ond half of the nineteenth century. Increasing population drove the destruc-tion. Human numbers were 17 million in 1840 and 63 million in 1890. Therate of increase was between 2 and 3 percent for every year in this interval,...
2 | Sprawl
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This ideally situated estate, comprising six acres of excellent building land, is to bedeveloped with high class modern residences by Sutch and Martin, Limited, of New-One morning two years after I came to Michigan, I set out to explore an ex-tensive bog forest. An old logging road ran a few hundred yards to a plateaurising about 30 feet above the level of the bog. On this island of high ground...
3 | Why Save Land
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...“In what way does the sooty tern serve mankind?” someone asked one ofmy old southern Illinois chums, later on when he was curator of birds at amuseum. The sooty tern is a graceful black-and-white bird of the Dry Tortu-gas and surrounding waters. Some people would save the sooty tern basedjust on its grace and beauty without worrying about how else it serves man-...
4 | Who Will Save the Land
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Edward K. Warren made a fortune manufacturing corset stays from feathersrather than whale bone. Very likely he would have become as rich as John D.Rockefeller or Commodore Vanderbilt if corsets hadn’t gone out of fashion.Around 1880, Warren bought a beech-maple forest near his home town ofThree Oaks, Michigan, and preserved it for its great natural beauty. He set it...
5 | Choosing Land to Save
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Most land trusts consider themselves conservation organizations, but oftenthe conservation is almost accidental. They save real estate and in doing sothey save ecosystems and organisms, but many acquire land almost withouta plan, and their stewardship often is either nonexistent or aimed mostly atSaving land of modest ecological importance is better than saving no land...
6 | Stewardship
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Conservation organizations today like to call what they do with their landstewardship rather than management. The difference, perhaps, is that“management” carries the connotation of arbitrary control; it is man asdominator. “Stewardship,” on the other hand, implies taking care of theland in accordance with some greater scheme. For some people, this may be...
7 | How to Save Land
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The most important person in conservation by private organizations is thewilling landowner. In Private Approaches to the Preservation of OpenLand,Russell Brenneman followed “a long, unhealthy tradition in the law”and called his landowner Mr. Black.1Let’s break slightly with that traditionThe Biebers’ land includes a handsome pond surrounded by marshes,...
8 | Defending Conservation Easements
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Every year, or oftener in some circumstances, a land trust needs to revisitevery easement property. A major reason is to detect and document any vio-lation since the last visit. It’s also important just to keep track of ongoingchanges. Change is constant in the natural world. Hydrology changes, suc-cession occurs, plant and animal ranges expand and contract. A land trust...
9 | The Land Trust Alliance
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On the last day of the 1981 National Consultation on Local Land Conser-vation in Cambridge, Massachusetts (see chapter 1), the participants visitedsome preserves of the Trustees of Reservations, had a clam and lobster bake,and talked about what the next step should be. Replete in the afterglow ofthe successful meeting, they decided that a permanent organization was...
10 | The Nature Conservancy
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...“The Nature Conservancy is turning into another God-damned AudubonSociety,” Victor E. Shelford told me one August day in 1958. We weredriving back to Champaign-Urbana from Indiana University. The NatureConservancy (TNC) had met in Bloomington in conjunction with manyother biology societiesthat were members of the American Institute of Bio-...
11 | Trust for Public Land
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The Trust for Public Land was founded in 1972, in San Francisco. It was atime when the mass movements for peace, civil rights, social justice, and theThe Trust for Public Land was founded by Huey D. Johnson. He’d beenwestern regional director of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) since January1964 and brieﬂy served as interim president in 1966.1 However, Johnson’s...
12 | Farmland Protection
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Land trusts generally tend to be cool, in the jazz sense. They approach theirwork—their newsletters, their dealings with land owners, their discussionsThe supporters of farmland protection, on the other hand, are often as in-tense as a chorus of “Potato Head Blues” by Louis Armstrong and his HotSeven. Part of the difference in attitude between preserving natural land and...
13 | Trails and Greenways
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People—like deer, foxes, and other mammals—make trails. In North Amer-ica, Indians made trails. Explorers, traders, and pioneers made trails whenthey needed to go where the Indian trails didn’t. Where I live, in the Mid-west, most roads today conform to the land survey grid; the occasional roadthat slants across the grid often is built on an old Indian trail. It may go from...
14 | A Diversity of Local Land Trusts
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Man tends to produce a forest edge condition. . . . The sharp natural differencesbetween regions are thus reduced and “forest edge” species with wide climatic toler-ance are encouraged to spread. Thus, lists of roadside and farmland birds which wecompiled on a 6,000 mile trip through western North America were monotonouslythe same regardless of the [original vegetation], whereas birds of natural commu-...
15 | A Cleaner, Greener Land
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...“Without a positive vision of the future, conservationists are doomed toﬁght, and probably lose, a series of rearguard actions,” cautioned a 1997book on the ecological basis of conservation.1Most of us have heard peoplesay—perhaps said it ourselves—that the trouble with environmentalists isthat they’re prophets of gloom and doom. Even if they’re right, we don’t...
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Page Count: 364
Publication Year: 2013