The Land Trust Alliance works with the land trust community in countless ways, demonstrating how we are all stronger together.
One land trust was on the brink of shutting down, another found itself facing bad press, and the entire land trust community depended on passage of the enhanced federal tax deduction for conservation easement donations to help landowners save their land. To whom did they all turn? The Land Trust Alliance.
Since 1982, the Alliance has been the go-to organization for its land trust members, including the San Juan Preservation Trust. A voice for the land trust community, the Alliance is the national leader in land conservation policy, standards and education. It works diligently to advance land trusts so they can conserve and steward more land now and for future generations.
The Alliance is well into its 36th year working with land trusts. One supporter once said, “If there wasn’t an Alliance, we would have to create one.” Here’s an overview of the many benefits the Alliance offers its members (and here’s what our members have to say about us).
How It Works
To help land trusts be the best they can be, the Alliance focuses its energies and resources on four distinct but interrelated areas of activity, providing tools, resources and programs to support land trusts in every aspect of protecting land:
The Alliance advocates for land trusts at multiple levels by promoting conservation-friendly public policies and programs (such as the federal tax incentive), defending against challenges (in courts and in the court of public opinion) and promoting the value of land conservation and land trusts to critical audiences nationwide.
The Alliance builds the capacity of land trusts through standards and practices, educational offerings, training curricula, regrants and financial assistance to land trusts, preparation services related to Terrafirma and other programs. The Alliance also provides ongoing education and training through regional staff, webinars, and publications to strengthen organizations and train land trust leaders.
The Alliance serves as the convener for the land trust community, not only through its annual Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference, but also through land trust networks (online and regionally) and strategically in response to moments of crisis and opportunity.
The Alliance provides collaborative leadership to the land conservation sector by working with land trusts in communities throughout America to identify emerging threats, find practical solutions and set the agenda for private land conservation nationally, such as creating conservation defense insurance to help land trusts address violations.
Going Above and Beyond Basic Services
The secret to the success of the Land Trust Alliance is, not surprisingly, its people. “We have excellent staff members, located in D.C. and around the country,” says Chase Warden, Alliance chief operations and financial officer, who formerly worked for The Nature Conservancy (accredited). But, he adds, “We are one Alliance. Staff members draw on the power and resources of the whole organization.”
The Alliance Is on the Ground with Land Trusts
The Alliance’s regional staff are strategically placed in areas around the country, like Catherine Waterston, Western program associate at the Alliance.
Catherine works with land trust staff, board members and volunteers in her region, often by email and phone calls.
Raised in Texas, Catherine knows a thing or two about the 14 states she supports in her role. “I get a broad view of the amazing work our land trusts are doing, from Texas to Alaska!” says Catherine.
She first took an interest in conservation when she went to work for the accredited Peninsula Open Space Trust in California. Before that, she loved hiking and going to swimming holes in central Texas, but she didn’t give much thought to how those places came to be protected. She says of her introduction to the land trust community, “I quickly learned how important it is, and how much work it takes, to protect those special places.” Located in Oregon, Catherine works with land trusts in the western region and staffs the Western Help Desk, where she helps members find solutions to a wide range of organizational questions and challenges. “Catherine is great at understanding how best to provide land trusts with the advice and resources they need to succeed,” says Wendy Ninteman, the Alliance’s Western director.
Broad and Deep Outreach
The Alliance will continue to produce robust programming and services to help land trusts engage in land conservation in ways that are tailored to their circumstances and unique realities. But it can do much more as a national organization that represents 1,000 land trusts from across the country. The Alliance is building a national, coalition-based action campaign around land conservation that will complement and amplify the local efforts of land trusts.