Washington, D.C., Sept. 12 – The nation’s local and
regional, private, nonprofit land trusts have conserved more than 6.4 million
acres of open space as of Dec. 31, 2000, a 241 percent increase
over the acreage protected as of 1990, creating an “everlasting legacy on the
land,” according to Land Trust Alliance’s President Jean Hocker.
Reflecting the national trend, citizens in the ChequamegonBay region have formed a land
trust to preserve and protect natural areas in Bayfield, Ashland, Douglas and SawyerCounties. “The Bayfield Regional
Conservancy is one of the hundreds of local land trusts that formed in the past
decade in a response to the changing landscape” said
Ruth Oppedahl, executive director for the new land trust which is based in Bayfield, WI.
The National Land
Trust Census, the nation’s only tabulation of the achievements of the
voluntary land conservation movement, paints a portrait of a vibrant and effective
movement, created by people concerned about the loss of open space in their
communities. Land Trust Alliance’s Census identified several milestones:
Local and regional land
trusts have protected 6,479,674 acres of open space as of Dec. 31, 2000, an
area twice the size of Connecticut.
That is a 241 percent increase over the 1.9 million acres protected as of
1990. Although the National Land Trust Census tallies data only from
local and regional land trusts, national land trusts have protected millions
of acres as well.
A record 1,263 local and
regional land trusts were in operation in 2000, a 42 percent increase over
the number (887) that existed in 1990. (See Figure.)
For the first time since
1891, when the first nonprofit land trust was founded in the United
States, open space has been permanently protected in all 50 states, the
District of Columbia and Puerto Rico by nonprofit, grassroots land trusts.
“The Census portrays a growing movement that is fueled by people’s
desire to save the open lands that make each community unique,” said Ms. Hocker, who has led LTA for 14 years. “In nearly
every corner of America, people can point proudly to land that is voluntarily
conserved through a land trust – land that is important for its wildlife and
natural resources values, for scenic and recreational values, for its value as
productive farm, ranch and timberland and – most essentially – for its value to
“Local and regional land trusts are nonprofit organizations that people
have formed, grown and supported in order to protect and give long-term stewardship
to open space.
They represent people’s ambitions, hopes and dreams for their
communities and generations yet to come,” noted Ms. Hocker.
In northwestern Wisconsin, the Bayfield Regional
Conservancy is currently working with private landowners on conservation
easements that will permanently protect over 400 acres of land, including a
wild lake, forests and wetlands.Last
year, the Conservancy assisted the Town of Bell in buying a stretch of Lake Superiorshoreland
in SiskiwitBay for public access.
Bayfield Regional Conservancy has an option to buy 40 acres shown above from
the Peterson Family in Bayfield.The
land expands the flood protection for the City and provides scenic hiking and snowshowing trails for the public.
The land trust may also buy and hold land for natural areas.In June, an option was
signed to purchase 40 acres above Bayfield that expands the City of Bayfield’s flood protection and
provides a number of trails that are used for hiking, snowshoeing and nature
One of the first projects the group undertook was to secure easements
along the Brownstone Trail, a public footpath that runs along Lake Superior from the City of Bayfield to the Port Superior
Marina.In addition, the Conservancy is
assisting the Town of Bayfield’s Farmland Preservation
Committee to save vital farmland and fruit-growing land around Bayfield. The
Bayfield Regional Conservancy also supports the Living Forest Cooperative, a
local initiative to encourage sustainable forest management on private lands.
Oppedahl says, “We are a conservation partner with private landowners,
local governments and others who want to join in this fast-growing conservation
movement.We can make a difference in
preserving natural areas, forests, farms and wild and scenic spaces in
To learn more about local conservation efforts, the public is invited to attend the annual meeting of the Bayfield
Regional Conservancy on Saturday, September 29 at at the Port Superior Marina
For more information on the Bayfield Regional Conservancy call
715-779-LAND (5263) or www.brcland.org