Land Conservation and the Public Trust

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co-authored by Ernie Atencio, Peter Forbes and Danyelle O'Hara

"If this work of re-imagining land conservation as being about relationship and community were easy, we would have done it long ago."

"The courage to reach for something that may not be fully attainable in the short term is always hard and always an act of leadership. And that leadership couldn’t come at a more important time for the land trust movement."

“The direct and prominent connection between wealth, class, and land conservation has been well documented in this country by generations of academics and practitioners. This information, however, is not well integrated into the story that land conservation tells about itself or the practices it uses to address these dynamics. The gap between the stories told by conservationists and those told by others who are deeply connected to and love the land impede authentic collaboration, although connection to and love for the land should unite the two groups. This is the sorrow of the conservation movement, of our nation too, and one major obstacle to creating healthy, whole communities."  

"An African American forester interviewed in this project said this about the land trust movement: “We can only have conversation about what land trusts have not gotten right because of what they have got right. We can provide a nuanced critique of land trusts because they’ve been so effective.” Many folks, inside and outside the land trust movement, can see the big picture and can even name where we are today in the process. One land trust executive director said this: “It’s like medical triage; the first thing you’ve got to do is stop the bleeding, then you can take time to look at the long term, the systemic challenges that are preventing health.”

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