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Natural Awakenings

Sacred Ground: Private Land Conservation Booms

Sprawl is breathing down virtually everyone’s neck. But “people are not sitting around and waiting for Washington bureaucrats to solve the problem of strip malls in their own backyard–they’re forming land trusts,” says Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance. While development overruns 2 million acres of open space, farms and forest a year, private land conservation jumped 54 percent, from 24 million to 37 million acres between 2000 and 2005. That’s an area larger than New England.

Nonprofit land trusts assist in setting up conservation, agricultural and other land-preservation easements and then act as land stewards in the public interest. They might focus on wildlife habitat, wetlands, natural open space, farms and ranches, local parks or urban gardens. Donors receive tax breaks while saving rugged landscapes they love. As federal dollars dwindle, the big green bucks to buy land are coming from state and local bond issues as citizens approve targeted taxes. Groups like the Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited and the Trust for Public Land are also contributing to the trend.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

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