Across the United States communities are grasping the important role open space preservation has in creating better places to live. Open space supports smart growth goals by bolstering local economies, preserving critical environmental areas, providing recreational opportunities, and guiding new growth into existing communities. Preservation of open space can have a profound impact on a community’s quality of life, and therefore a region’s economic prosperity. An economic analysis performed for the East Bay Regional Park District in California concluded that “the provision of open space and associated recreational and educational opportunities, environmental and cultural preservation, alternative transit modes, and sprawl-limiting characteristics, all contribute positively to the quality of life in the East Bay region.”  A 1997 study reported that owners of small companies ranked recreation, parks, and open space as the highest priorities in choosing a new location for their business.

Networks of preserved open space and waterways can shape and direct urban form and at the same time prevent haphazard conservation (conservation that is reactive and small scale). These networks, known as “green infrastructure,” help frame new growth by locating new development in the most cost-efficient places.  The most cost-efficient locations for new development are where roads, sewers, water lines, and other utilities currently exist. Green infrastructure also ensures that the preserved areas are connected so as to create wildlife corridors, preserve water quality, and maintain economically viable working lands. 

Working lands and recreation resources are preserved by directing development to existing communities.

There are significant fiscal, environmental quality, and health benefits associated with the protection of open space. Open space can increase local property values (thereby increasing property tax bases),provide tourism dollars, and reduce the need for local tax increases by reducing the need for construction of new infrastructure.  In addition, management of the quality and supply of open space ensures that prime farm and ranch lands are available, prevents flood damage, and provides a natural and less expensive alternative for providing clean drinking water.  Preservation of open spaces helps to protect animal and plant habitats, places of natural beauty, and working lands by removing the development pressure and redirecting new growth to existing communities. Preservation benefits the environment by combating air pollution, attenuating noise, controlling wind, providing erosion control, and moderating temperatures. Finally, open space also protects surface and ground water resources by filtering trash, debris, and chemical pollutants before they enter the community’s water system. Political will is increasing to save the places that Americans treasure.

Local governments across the country are also realizing that locally accessible open space can make a community an attractive location for potential employees, raise property values, and stimulate tourism. Plentiful and accessible open space and working lands were factors in Hewlett Packard, Intel, and Hyundai’s decisions to locate in Portland, Oregon.  Open space and working lands also require fewer community services than residential or commercial development, which allows localities to save money for other fiscal priorities.

Preservation efforts are also driven by the environmental impacts of losing open space and working lands. Forests, wetlands, meadows, and other natural areas provide essential ecosystem services such as filtering runoff, storing carbon emissions, and maintaining wildlife habitat. These and other ecoservices can be damaged as open space is replaced with parking lots, malls, office buildings, driveways, and other structures. When these ecosystem services are sufficiently degraded, communities are often forced to spend large sums of money to construct technologies, such as water treatment plants, that mimic natural functions.


The following policies and strategies represent a broad range of tools to promote open space and the preservation of working lands as part of a community’s larger development process. Each of these policies and strategies may not be applicable in all communities, but they can provide a starting point for communities to create and preserve special human and wildlife habitats. Furthermore, these policies are best used to create a regional open-space network that helps identify which lands should be preserved and which lands should be developed.


Use transfer of development rights purchase of development rights, and other market mechanisms to conserve private lands

  It may not be realistic or desirable for the public sector to buy outright all of the open space they wish to protect, so innovative ways to protect targeted areas must be considered. An increasingly popular tool for land preservation has been the use of market-based mechanisms such as donated conservation easements, transfer of development rights (TDRs), and purchase of development rights (PDRs). These tools all can permanently protect land from development pressure by channeling financial incentives to the property owner.

A PDR—in essence, a purchased conservation easement—offers a permanent solution for communities looking to preserve open space if they are unable to purchase the land outright. Under a PDR, landowners sell the rights to develop their land to a land trust or government agency while retaining the title to the property and the rest of their bundle of rights. As a result, a legal restriction is tied to the deed for the property that prevents all future development on the targeted land. Landowners benefit by not only receiving payment for the PDR, but they are often also eligible for some combination of property tax, estate tax, or income tax benefits. PDRs have been especially successful in protecting working lands. For example, PDRs have been used to keep almost a million acres of farm and ranch land nationwide in productive private ownership.

In a TDR program, a community identifies areas for protection and areas for increased density. Landowners who own property in areas designated for preservation are given development credits that can be sold. These credits can be purchased by developers to build in areas designated for increased density.

The use of these innovative tools remains illegal, however, in many localities in the United States. Therefore, if these tools are to be effective, it is imperative that states provide the enabling legislation that is necessary to allow communities to preserve valuable open space.

Coordinate and link local, state, and federal planning on land conservation and development

Many resources exist at the local, state, and federal levels to preserve and protect open space. Often the linkages between the various programs that would allow them to have a more significant impact are absent. States can play an active role in building stronger support for open-space conservation by collaborating with relevant partners to protect open spaces.

Creating opportunities for open spaces in high-density downtown contexts -- like this one in Newark, New Jersey --are critical

The state of Utah’s Critical Land Conservation Committee was established as a catalyst for locally initiated conservation efforts.  The committee plans to assist localities and organizations by providing technical expertise, conducting a statewide open-space inventory, developing a land-use and conservation clearinghouse, and facilitating the multi-agency and cross-jurisdictional partnerships that many open-space conservation efforts require. This effort included and educated all stakeholders: government, private industry and organizations, academia, and individuals.

Expand use of innovative financing tools to facilitate open space acquisition and preservation

The challenge of paying for a resource that is unlikely to generate immediate fiscal benefits, yet necessitates expensive outlays of capital to secure, requires innovative approaches to financing.  There are many such tools that can be used to finance open-space acquisition and preservation. These tools include levying a portion of the local sales tax or real estate transfer tax, instituting impact fees, using borrowing power (e.g., bonds), providing income tax credits, charging user fees, and collecting fees from special motor vehicle taxes or license plates.

Design and implement an information-gathering and education program

Gathering information on the status of land use and environmental characteristics throughout a region is a critical component for determining which lands are more important to preserve and which lands can be developed with minimal impacts to the environment. Information collected should include data on issues such as land ownership, protected areas, biodiversity needs, existing infrastructure, floodplains, shorelands, wetlands, ground water recharge areas, and prime agricultural areas.  An inventory of a region’s environmental characteristics and land uses can help identify critical areas for open-space preservation.

Design and implement zoning tools that preserve open space

Otay Ranch in Chula Vista, California, uses a network of recreation trails to connect its neighborhoods.

Communities across the United States have successfully used zoning to preserve natural resources throughout a region. One common technique is cluster development zoning. This technique allows the same overall amount of development that is already permitted but requires that the development be placed on only a portion of the parcel, thereby retaining the balance as open space.
  Clustering can protect resources such as environmentally sensitive areas, forests, and historic sites, by allowing higher concentrations of development on a smaller portion of land, which leaves large plots of land as permanent open space.

Another technique is the use of incentive zoning. The town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, has added language to its zoning codes that allows builders to create a greater number of lots than normally allowed in a development in exchange for dedicating additional open space. Under the ordinance, developers are permitted to increase the number of lots by up to 20 percent in exchange for
clustering the development and preserving the balance as undeveloped open space.

Partner with nongovernmental organizations to acquire and protect land

Foundations, land trusts, and other public and nonprofit entities often have a fundamental interest in preserving space of natural, cultural, or historic value.   Such entities can be particularly helpful with building coalitions, assisting on land-use legislation, and making policy recommendations to communities. Local governments should support these organizations through funding and efforts to improve civic awareness about their mission.

In addition, these organizations can help with the acquisition of open space. Land trusts operate at the local and regional level to acquire and protect land of significant ecological, open space, recreational, and historical value. According to the Land Trust Alliance, there are 1,200 land trusts at work in the United States. Land trusts can save open space in ways, and at speeds, not always possible for governments. For example, organizations such as the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Nature Conservancy can act as intermediate brokers for land acquisition, by purchasing property, conveying it to the local jurisdiction, and then waiting for local funding to come through.For example, the city of Tucson, Arizona, asked TPL to buy a scenic mountain tract overlooking downtown, which was being offered for sale by a savings and loan. City officials intended to include the costs of the property in the next budget, but legally they could not commit the funds. The trust purchased the property for the city and was reimbursed during the next budget cycle.

The nonprofit status of land trusts and some other nongovernmental organizations also allows landowners to receive tax breaks when they sell their property below market value.

Use land management techniques and acquisition to protect drinking water sources

A recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study forecasted a need for capital spending of more than $150 billion over the next 20 years to ensure the continued provision of safe drinking water.  The majority of this estimate was derived from the need to build water treatment, storage, and distribution infrastructure. Many communities are seeking to reduce the need for costly infrastructure by preserving and managing watershed lands for source water protection.

Preserving open space upstream can help protect drinking water resources by filtering out contaminants and chemical pollutants before they enter the community’s water system. Critical areas for water-quality protection include wetlands, buffer zones, riparian corridors, and floodplains. Wetlands are especially critical in maintaining water quality since they are natural filtration plants. As water’s flow-rate slows, water is filtered as sediments settle out.  Trace metals bond to clay carried in runoff also drop out and become sequestered in the soils and peat at the bed of the marsh. Thus, open areas can provide a natural mechanism for filtering out the pollutants from development and other human activities. Conservation groups and the cities of San Antonio and Austin, Texas, have been actively protecting these natural filtering functions. They are acquiring lands around Edward’s aquifer, a source of drinking water for millions of residents.

Stream buffers are a proven strategy for safeguarding water resources

Land management techniques can also protect source water. Strips of vegetation along streams and around reservoirs provide important buffers. These buffer zones decrease the amount of pollution entering the water system. Tree and shrub roots hold the bank in place, preventing erosion and its resulting sedimentation and turbidity. Detritus and grasses slow the flow of runoff, giving the sediment time to settle and water time to percolate, filter through the soil, and recharge underlying groundwater. By identifying and preserving these critical ecological areas, communities are taking active steps to preserve and enhance their water quality and supply.

Invest in the rural economy to preserve working lands

Farmers’ markets can be a great strategy for supporting local farms and creating public awareness of the benefits of farmland

Increasing agricultural land conversionand economic hardships have made it difficult for many communities to preserve farms and working lands, thus jeopardizing the profitability of farms and the livelihood of farmers on the metropolitan fringe. If farming is not profitable, development of the land becomes a much more attractive prospect. Moreover, with the farm population aging, even profitable farms are sold for development when new farmers cannot be found to purchase the land. Innovative preservation strategies that bolster local agricultural economies and preserve productive lands are important components of a smart growth plan.

New entrepreneurial agriculture is taking advantage of the growing market for high-quality, locally grown food and niche products such as organics.  These often small operations bypass the now common procedure of growing food products for large markets with thin profit margins. Instead, they sell their products directly to nearby metro areas through farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture, and other local programs. The USDA reports that the number of farmers’ markets has increased 79 percent from 1994 to 2002, with over 3,100 operating in 2002.  The farmers’ market renaissance is a promising strategy to keep farmers in business and to put productive farmland to work by stabilizing an area’s economy.

Use innovative permitting approaches to protect critical environmental areas

Long Branch, New Jersey, is using smart growth development to reinvest in their coastal community and preserve the ecological and economic benefits of their waterfront. This new direction began when the city received flexibility under the state’s coastal zone management law to evaluate development plans on a comprehensive (considering several lots simultaneously) basis rather than through traditional lot-by-lot reviews.  This flexibility, known as sector-based permitting, allowed Long Branch to consider habitat protection and economic development together in determining the course of future waterfront projects.

In 1995, a developer proposed a city plan for Long Branch focusing on creating several development sectors that would contain a mix of uses—residential, retail, office—along with a redeveloped pier.  This plan was intended to help transform the waterfront into a year-round destination instead of a seasonal one. Creating mixed-use and compact development along the coast, the plan contended, would also concentrate development onto a smaller percentage of the waterfront. Therefore, it would preserve a greater area of coastal land than would be possible under the current plan.

Local governments across the country are realizing that locally accessible open space can make a community an attractive location for potential employees, raise property values, and stimulate tourism. Plentiful and accessible open space and working lands were factors in Hewlett Packard, Intel, and Hyundai’s decisions to locate in Portland, Oregon.  Open space and working lands also require fewer community services than residential or commercial development, which allows localities to save money for other fiscal priorities.

Preservation efforts are also driven by the environmental impacts of losing open space and working lands. Forests, wetlands, meadows, and other natural areas provide essential ecosystem services such as filtering runoff, storing carbon emissions, and maintaining wildlife habitat. These and other ecoservices can be damaged as open space is replaced with parking lots, malls, office buildings, driveways, and other structures. When these ecosystem services are sufficiently degraded, communities are often forced to spend large sums of money to construct technologies, such as water treatment plants, that mimic natural functions.

The following policies and strategies represent a broad range of tools to promote open space and the preservation of working lands as part of a community’s larger development process. Each of these policies and strategies may not be applicable in all communities, but they can provide a starting point for communities to create and preserve special human and wildlife habitats. Furthermore, these policies are best used to create a regional open-space network that helps identify which lands should be preserved and which lands should be developed.

Employ regional development strategies that better protect and preserve open space in edge areas

One of the most fundamental approaches to preserving open space is to reduce the regional development pressures on existing open areas at the fringe of communities. By providing financial or regulatory incentives to focus development in areas where adequate infrastructure for growth (water, sewer, roads, and the like) already exists, land at the urban fringe will be under less pressure for development. Regional development strategies can help coordinate the efforts of localities and identify opportunities for infill or brownfields development, thereby protecting land at the urban fringe to benefit all.

The state of Wisconsin supports regional planning to ease development pressures on fringe areas by providing state funding priority to local governments that address the needs of adjacent communities in their development plans, instead of just pursuing parochial interests.  In 1998, the state of Maryland issued legislation for priority funding areas that directs state funds to municipalities and other existing communities, industrial areas, and planned growth areas.  This legislation allows the state and local governments to target where economic development and new growth will occur.

Adopt a green infrastructure plan

A formal green infrastructure plan provides a framework for future growth by prioritizing what open space should be protected and what open space should be available to development. Conventional practice now largely designates whatever open spaces are remaining for preservation after buildings and roads are developed. Conversely, a green infrastructure plan would identify and protect critical ecological sites and linkages in advance of planning and construction of infrastructure and development of land. In so doing, not only are valuable natural resources preserved, but recurring project-level decisions about conservation can be avoided by identifying targeted sites comprehensively and early in the green infrastructure plan. According to the Green Infrastructure Working Group, a coalition of nonprofit organizations and local, state and federal governments, green infrastructure is “the nation’s natural life support system—a strategically planned and managed network of wilderness, parks, greenways, conservation easements, and working lands with conservation value. This network supports native species, maintains natural ecological processes, sustains air and water resources, and contributes to the health and quality of life for America’s communities and people.”

Identifying and planning for priority conservation areas prior to development is critical because of the high cost of restoration and the difficulty of creating man-made systems to mimic natural processes (e.g., water filtration). When development is already present, a green infrastructure plan can help communities to set priorities for restoring areas and linking them to other open spaces.

Create a network of trails and greenways

To maximize the utility of green spaces, communities must ensure that trails and greenways form a continuous network of pathways for biking, running, or cross-country skiing through a region. Trails and greenways are protected corridors of open space that allow for a multifaceted approach to land conservation and park planning by serving both recreational and conservation functions. Forming an interconnected network of trails and greenways not only ensures stronger corridors for animal migration, but it can also make these valuable resources more accessible to the region’s residents.

Link land conservation with other smart growth principles

Open space conservation is closely tied with other principles of smart growth, such as Principle 1, “create a range of housing opportunities and choices,” and Principle 9, “strengthen and direct development toward existing communities.” It is important to implement these principles in combination with open-space preservation efforts. Without them, conservation efforts can push new demand into adjacent areas by simply shifting land conversion to other localities. Smart growth neighborhoods are important for effective land conservation because compact, mixed-use developments use less land than the same number of units developed in the typical low-density pattern, thereby relieving growth pressures on open space.  Reusing previously developed land has a similar impact.In 2002, President George Bush noted that “one of the best ways to arrest urban sprawl is to develop brownfields and make them productive pieces of land, where people can find work and employment. By one estimate, for every one acre of redeveloped brownfields, we save 4.5 acres of open space.”  St. Louis, Missouri, is attempting to make this connection throughout their metropolitan area. The city is working with the surrounding municipalities to preserve open space and direct growth to existing communities.  Their regional blueprint places a large focus on redeveloping brownfields to achieve their goals.

The state of Massachusetts has connected several smart growth principles through its Community Preservation Act. The act provides state matching funds to local governments that adopt funding programs by local referendum. It requires that at least 10 percent of the combined state-local funds in each community must be expended on each of three categories of activity: affordable housing, open space, and historic and community preservation; the remaining 70 percent can be allocated to any of the three areas.  By combining different goals within a single act, advocates for housing, community preservation, and open space protection begin to connect their interests and collaborate on allocations of money that will deliver multiple goals—projects that deliver housing, protect open space, and revitalize communities—instead of remaining indifferent or even opposed to one another’s interests.  Achieving multiple goals through a single investment is a hallmark of smart growth.

Provide mechanisms for preserving working lands

The preservation of prime farm and ranch land deserves special attention for a variety of reasons. Most of the land that is under the greatest development pressure is prime farmland that surrounds metropolitan areas—termed “prime” because this farmland consists of the finest soils, requires the least amount of chemical or irrigation inputs, or is in greatest proximity to markets or transportation networks. Farmland also warrants special efforts to protect it because it demands less in public services than development, thereby serving as a net local tax contributor.

Agricultural districts can be used to support and protect the local agricultural economy from the pressure of urbanization and second-home development.  They do this by primarily excluding inhospitable land uses, such as suburban development, and ensuring a critical mass of farmland to support needed agricultural infrastructure (e.g., distribution channels, equipment supplies, etc.). Agricultural districts can be made more effective by adopting a hybrid approach to farmland protection that includes market mechanisms to preserve farmland.Places such as Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and Marin County, California, have combined agricultural districts and the purchase of agricultural conservation easement programs (PACEs) to great success. These approaches work by using agricultural districts to protect farmland in the near term, while funding is raised through a PACE program to purchase the land easements over time.

Establish priority-setting criteria for open space acquisition

Since 1998, nearly $20 billion has been approved for open-space preservation in local and state referendums.  In many cases, however, communities are passing these bond referendums and other financial instruments as a reactive measure to help preserve the “last wetland” or the “last community farm.” While a reactive preservation strategy can preserve critical lands, it often does so in a scattershot way. Small, disconnected fragments of conserved land have less ecological value as wildlife habitat, are less accessible to the public, and have reduced value in directing growth than larger parcels connected by a green infrastructure of corridors. Communities can get better bang for their buck by being strategic about which lands they acquire—especially those communities with limited funding.

To help ensure that conservation efforts proactively enhance green infrastructure, communities can establish priority-setting criteria.  Once a community has established an inventory of their regional resources and conservation goals, a prioritization scheme can help preserve land in a cost-effective way. It can be tailored to protect endangered wildlife and native habitats, as well as to preserve more elusive attributes, such as a sense of place. Prioritization systems can range from the simple to the complex but are used to best effect when connected to a regional conservation plan.

Incorporate land conservation into transportation planning

The expansion of the nation’s road network has provided many economic benefits, such as enhanced access to markets, increased tourism, and reduced costs of many goods.  However, roads have ecological impacts as well.  These impacts include animal mortality from construction and collisions, alteration of surrounding habitat, spread of exotic plants and animals, and increased human use.  To ensure that communities are able to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of transportation, land conservation should be incorporated into the transportation planning process.

Often, long-range land-use planning is not conducted until transportation systems have already been expanded or put into place.  This strategy can have negative effects on the ecology and character of a community.  In 2001, a unique partnership in McHenry County, Illinois, among local, state, and federal agencies worked to overcome these typical planning-process shortcomings.  The goal of the partnership was to create an intergovernmental comprehensive transportation and land-use plan that accommodated development while preserving the integrity of the ecologically significant Kishawaukee River Watershed. The plan, funded by the Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation and Community System Preservation (TCSP) grant program, developed the transportation plan for the Route 47/Kishawaukee River Corridor after a conservation-focused land-use plan was developed.

A key part of the master plan was the development of growth models and sustainability indicators, which were based on community and technical input from surveys, meetings, and workshops.  The models created scenarios depicting what land use in the Kishawaukee River Corridor currently looked like, what it would look like if it is built according to existing zoning codes, and what it could look like if conservation-based measures were adopted.

The sustainability indicators were designed to measure whether the river corridor is being developed according to community approved conservation, transportation, and growth goals. Some of the indicators were developed to address air-quality and light pollution questions, such as “How many nights in summer can you see the Milky Way?” Another indicator was based on the “number of successfully breeding pairs of Sandhill Cranes,” which contribute to the overall health of the corridor ecosystem. Other indicators of the ecosystem’s health relate to the number of amphibians,
the area water quality, and the amount of quality habitat.

Take advantage of nature’s ecoservices

Nature provides many important services, ranging from water filtration to carbon sequestration to plant pollination. Yet, these essential public services are often undervalued in policy making in part because they do not have accepted monetary costs and benefits associated with them. Putting a value on ecoservices can be an effective way to encourage open-space preservation and environmental stewardship in a market-based economy.

One innovative attempt to take advantage of the value of natural processes helped preserve one of the largest wetland complexes on the East Coast.  In 2002, Allegheny Energy sold roughly 12,000 acres of land in the Canaan Valley to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for $16 million—a cost in line with past sales for comparable properties.  However, Allegheny Energy was able to report to the IRS that the market value of the property was worth $32 million by incorporating the land’s “ecological assets.” This allows the energy company to claim a charitable contribution of around $16 million, potentially saving them several million dollars in taxes—a powerful incentive to dispose of the land for conservation purposes.

Allegheny Energy hired GreenVest, an environmental planning firm, to sum up the Canaan Valley property’s eco-assets, which included the property’s value as a mitigation bank, potential tosequester carbon (i.e., “store” carbon emissions in the environment), and value as public open space. The Clean Water Act and other environmental statutes require companies or individuals that destroy wetlands or habitat in one area to restore and maintain them elsewhere. In response, mitigation banks have been developed to allow developers to deposit and sell land rights to meet the regulatory requirements. Using industry standards for mitigation banks and comparables for the acquisition of open space, GreenVest was able to add $16 million to the Canaan Valley’s property value. In addition, prior studies of carbon sequestration led the firm to include $15 per ton of stored carbon into the assessment, thus adding $7 million to the property’s value.

Hurdles remain before the deal is final. For example, the IRS needs to assess the type and the amount of ecological assets being included in Allegheny Energy’s property value. The federal agency must also determine the legal authority of the Canaan Valley property to act as a mitigation ban. Regardless of the IRS’s decision in this case, other energy companies have seen the potential in eco-asset valuations and have begun investigating the potential of eco-asset valuation to turn ecologically significant land from tax burdens into profitable and functioning habitats.

Support tree preservation through public-private partnerships

Trees are important components of a community’s green infrastructure. A healthy population of trees offers substantial environmental benefits, including cleaner air and water, quieter streets, cheaper energy bills, cooler temperatures, and wildlife habitat.  In addition, trees can provide numerous economic advantages, such as increased property values and lower air and water remediation costs. As noted by American Forests, a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental restoration through tree planting and urban forestry, “employing tree conservation and forest reforestation as a tool to clean up the air could save the country billions while improving the quality of life for its citizens.”

Like many other cities across the country, Albuquerque, New Mexico, is facing tight budget constraints and recently ceased replacing aging trees. In response, the city and a local nonprofit, Tree New Mexico, partnered to create the Albuquerque Tree Initiative. The mission of the program is to raise funds to replace trees and plant additional trees in parks and other public places. The partnership is working to increase the city’s funds by securing corporate and private donations and foundation grants, encouraging community ownership of parks and public spaces, and providing volunteer opportunities for local citizens, groups, and businesses through tree-planting events.

As forestry economics change,unique opportunities are arising for governments and corporations to partner with timber companies to save forestland, maintain jobs, and promote sustainable tree-harvesting practices. For example, the state of Maryland, Conservation Fund, Forestland Group LLC, and the Glatfelter Corporation united in a partnership to protect 25,000 acres of the state’s most ecologically significant areas. The acquisition will join together 23,000 existing acres of forestland, 26 major river systems, and 89 watersheds. Eighty-seven percent of the land will remain working forests subject to conservation easements that extinguish development rights, ensure that sustainable forestry practices are used, and protect water quality and important resource features. The remaining acres are to be acquired by the Conservation Fund and then transferred to the state of Maryland once public funding is available.

Allow land trusts to compete for conservation funds

Wetlands provide many important services, including filtering water, providing habitat, and mitigating flood damage.

Forging partnerships with land trusts can be an excellent strategy for government agencies to achieve strategic and efficient land conservation.  Relative to government agencies, land trusts are often able to make land deals more cost effectively. Typically nonprofit land trusts have more flexibility and discretion in deciding how to purchase land rights (e.g., fee simple and conservation easement). In addition, when compared with government agencies, land trusts may be better able to reduce transaction times and costs. However, land trusts and similar groups are often not eligible to receive conservation funds. As development pressures increase at the fringes of metropolitan area, so does the price tag for acquiring critical environmental lands. Allowing land trusts to compete for local, state, and federal funds could allow for a greater quantity of land to be preserved for less money than if land trusts were excluded.

A wide variety of resources and programs are available to help the San Joaquin Valley region expand its housing choices.  The following listing contains relevant programs, resources and contacts for technical assistance, financial tools and specialized expertise available locally, as well as at the state and national level. 

  List here (to be inserted at a later date)