Land Trusts in California – The way forward in land conservation

Land Trusts: The way forward in Land Conservation in California

By Obi Kaufmann

There is beauty in the Land Trust model. When arguably most of the overall environmental movement has stalled over the past twenty-five years or so since the movement was polarized on a national, political level, the Land Trust movement has steadily grown in popularity and effectiveness. When at the beginning of the 1990’s, there were only a handful of Land Trusts operating across America, there are now over 1,700, of which 60% operate on the all-volunteer business model. The secret to its success is the innovative mix of private and public values, having equal appeal to both conservatives and liberals; a solution based on a legal agreement known as the conservation easement, which now almost two decades into the twenty-first century, seems like the best model going forward in the overarching land-conservation movement.

Land conservation is the permanent protection by legal recourse of the natural, scenic, agricultural, historical, forested or open space character of a property or parcel of land. The Land Trust movement uses language that is inclusive and appeals to a general sense of hope and connection to a place, of restoration and stewardship, of local, community-based action. There are no limitations on the type of land can be conserved by land trusts – it may be in dense urban settings, remote rural lands or anywhere in between, and may include the water rights. Many landowners take steps to responsibly steward their land although their work can be undone by a subsequent owner or by condemnation by a public agency who wants to use the land for other purposes. The term “land conservation” is commonly used to distinguish those specific actions that provide legal protections so that the resources are not damaged or lost to future actions. These legal protections will endure beyond any single landowner. Land can be conserved in several different ways.  The method used is determined by the conservation goals for the property, the landowner’s preferences, and available funding.  The two most common methods is that the property is conveyed in its entirety, as in all the rights of the property are bought outright (“fee title”) to a land trust or public agency, or the second method, a conservation easement is conveyed to a land trust or public agency.

Conservation Easements

In California, the fee title or the conservation easement is often sold so that the landowner receives funds, but fee title and easements can also be donated for significant tax benefits. A variety of financial options and tax incentives can help landowners achieve their conservation goals. In addition to income and, in many cases, property tax benefits, conservation easements can significantly lower estate taxes sometimes allowing heirs to keep the land rather than having to sell it. Land owners receive a tax deduction equal to the appraised value of the easement.

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a Land Trust.  Land Trusts are qualified nonprofit organizations set up specifically to conserve land and hold conservation easements.  The Land Trust primary role in this regard is to ensure that the terms of the easement are upheld.  This is usually done via annual monitoring visits to each easement by trained volunteer monitors.  Landowners typically manage and maintain the property, though the Land Trust can assist with projects or information that benefit or improve its conservation values.

As you investigate the Land Trusts across California and West, it might seem like a smattering of parcels, dots here that don’t represent big gains in land protection – like the chunk of land a large National Monument might represent. I encourage you to look at the bigger picture of connectivity between these spaces and how that it can represent a large network of land and habitat bridges for posterity, for biodiversity and for the whole host of inclusive reasons we are drawn to care about and for the places we love. As you get set to make your year end donations, please consider your local land trust, there is probably one taking care of a property you care about near you right now.

Note: this is a partial list of Land Trusts in California – groups I’ve worked with individually. If you would like to alert me to a Land Trust organization that I’ve missed, please email me at, and follow me on Instagram @coyotethunder. -Obi

A Land Trust Guide for Land Owners:

Land Conservation Assistance Network

For networking information about the National Land Trust System:

Land Trust Alliance

Trust for Public Land (Sacramento)

The Wilderness Land Trusts

California Council of Land Trusts

Summary of Land Trusts featured below

  1. Anderson Valley Land Trust (Boonville/Mendocino County)
  2. Back Country Land Trust (Alpine/San Diego County)
  3. Bear Yuba Land Trust (Grass Valley/Nevada County)
  4. Big Sur Land Trust (Big Sur/Monterey County)
  5. Bodega Land Trust (Bodega/Sonoma County)
  6. California Rangeland Trust (Sacramento)
  7. Center for Natural Lands Management (Temecula)
  8. Columbia Land Trust (Portland, OR)
  9. Feather River Land Trust (Quincy)
  10. Lake County Land Trust (Lakeport)
  11. Land Trust for Santa Barbara County (Santa Barbara)
  12. Land Trust of Santa Cruz County (Santa Cruz)
  13. Lassen Land and Trails Trust (Susanville)
  14. Marin Agricultural Land Trust (Point Reyes Station)
  15. McKinleyville Land Trust (McKinleyville)
  16. Mendocino Land Trust (Mendocino)
  17. Mojave Desert Land Trust (Johsua Tree)
  18. Mother Lode Land Trust (Jackson)
  19. Mountains Restoration Trust (Calabasas)
  20. Muir Heritage Land Trust (Martinez)
  21. Nature Reserve of Orange County (Irvine)
  22. North Coast Regional Land Trust (Bayside)
  23. Northern California Regional Land Trust (Chico)
  24. Pacific Forest Trust (San Francisco)
  25. Peninsula Open Space Trust (Palo Alto)
  26. Sacramento Valley Conservancy (Sacramento)
  27. Sempervirens Fund (Los Altos) http://www,
  28. Sequoia Riverlands Trust (Visalia)
  29. Shasta Land Trust (Redding)
  30. Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council (Nevada City)
  31. Sierra County Land Trust (Sierra City)
  32. Sierra Foothill Conservancy (Mariposa)
  33. Siskiyou Land Trust (Mt. Shasta)
  34. Solano Land Trust (Fairfield)
  35. Sonoma Land Trust (Santa Rosa)
  36. Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust (Yuba City)
  37. Tri Valley Conservancy (Livermore)
  38. Trinidad Coastal Land Trust (Trinidad)
  39. Truckee Donner Land Trust (Truckee)
  40. Yolo Land Trust (Woodland)

  1. Anderson Valley Land Trust (Boonville/Mendocino County)

Anderson Valley Land Trust (AVLT) is the only land trust that primarily focuses on Anderson Valley and the Navarro River Watershed. AVLT currently holds 26 easements. As of 2012, AVLT has joined with landowners to protect more than 2,200 acres of forests, riparian areas, agricultural land, oak woodlands, meadows, and views in Anderson Valley.  Some of the acreage will be “forever wild,” where natural processes are paramount. Others have been designated as working forest or as agricultural land that will be managed using sustainable practices. Each easement is individually tailored to the property’s conservation values and the landowner’s needs and vision.

  1. Back Country Land Trust (Alpine/San Diego County)

The Back Country Land Trust (BCLT) began saving land in Descanso, CA. Charged with preserving Robert’s Ranch from development, the land trust successfully lobbied the United States Congress for federal Land and Water Conservation Funding for the 750 acres. The BCLT has also participated in the protection of 2,600 acres, working with Pronatura, San Diego State University, and the International Community Foundation to protect watershed lands in Tecate. Now the focus is on gathering the final funding to forever protect Wrights Field, a 230-acre nature reserve in Alpine, California. The BCLT organizes native habitat restoration projects across the region, including the removal Arundo, an invasive giant cane that chokes creeks and pushes out native ecologies.

  1. Bear Yuba Land Trust (Grass Valley/Nevada County)

Nevada County Land Trust was born in 1990 when a small, diverse group of concerned citizens came together to preserve local farms, ranches, meadows and forests while recognizing that smart growth was important to the economic viability of the region. In 2011, Nevada County Land Trust became Bear Yuba Land Trust, bringing greater awareness to 9,000 acres protected within two watersheds spanning an area that begins in the lower elevation foothills and stretches to the high mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

  1. Big Sur Land Trust (Big Sur/Monterey County)

Big Sur Land Trust (BSLT) is a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire love of land and conservation of our treasured landscapes. Since 1978, BSLT has conserved over 40,000 acres throughout Monterey County. BSLT works in coastal, inland, remote and urban open spaces – increasing access to public parklands and ensuring the long-term viability of working landscapes and significant habitats throughout Monterey County.

  1. Bodega Land Trust (Bodega/Sonoma County)

Bodega Land Trust is currently proceeding with a conservation easement to protect nearly one and a half square miles of this critical ranch land, securing in perpetuity the ridge tops, streams, and redwood forests. Bodega Land Trust will monitor the easement, and work with lessees to establish and implement a management plan. Protection of this ranch will be an enormous step to joining nearby protected lands on the Estero Americano with the park lands along the Russian River and the coast, a bounty for generations to come.

  1. California Rangeland Trust (Sacramento)

California Rangeland Trust conserves open space, natural habitat, and stewardship provided by California’s working ranches. With over 12,000 acres of ranch and range lands protected forever from development in California’s Central Valley, California Rangeland trust has an impressive record of merging land conservation with ranchland heritage.

  1. Center for Natural Lands Management (Temecula)

CNLM protects and manages preserves in the states of California and Washington. All of the preserves provide refuge for threatened or endangered species or protect rare and sensitive habitat such as wetlands. Our focus is perpetual conservation and our preserves have enduring legal protections such as our ownership of the property, deed restriction, conservation easement, and/or perpetual management agreement. Although most of CNLM’s preserves are too vulnerable to allow public access, there are some preserves with public trails.


  1. Columbia Land Trust (Portland, OR)

Fearless Conservation is a once-in-a-generation campaign to launch Columbia Land Trust’s 25-year Conservation Agenda. This agenda outlines what we will do over the next four years, and the next quarter-century, to protect our most important Northwest places. CLT is looking to the future with a sharpened focus and a commitment to practicing what we call “fearless conservation.” The objectives defined in our agenda require $1.2 million dollars per year over the next 4 years, which we are poised to leverage into $100 million worth of conservation—more than in our previous 27 years combined.

  1. Feather River Land Trust (Quincy)

At 2.32 million acres, the Feather River watershed is the largest watershed in the Sierra Nevada. Since 2000, the Feather River Land Trust has been working to conserve the magnificent lands and waters of the Feather River region. They have successfully protected over 47,000 acres of private lands that support outstanding biodiversity, waterways, fisheries, recreational and educational opportunities, cultural sites, agricultural lands, and spectacular scenery.

  1. Lake County Land Trust (Lakeport)

Protecting land adjacent to North America’s oldest lake, The Lake County Land Trust’s signature project is the Rodman Ranch and Preserve, commonly called Rodman Slough, on the north end of Clear Lake. Acquisition of this property involved gathering resources from State, Federal, and County sources, as well as private funding to purchase and preserve valuable upland oak habitat and wetland habitat. Finally, in 1999, the Land Trust was able to complete the purchase of this property. The preserve consists of 240 acres, owned by the Land Trust and the Department of Fish and Game, plus another 40 acres owned by the County of Lake. Significant funding for this project came from the State Wildlife Conservation Board.  In 2007 a brand new nature education center was completed at the Rodman Preserve. The land trust was able to raise almost $150,000 locally to pay for the renovation of an old farm house on the property. Volunteers are leading walks, presenting programs, and working on installing interpretive and educational displays.

  1. Land Trust for Santa Barbara County (Santa Barbara)

The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and the Cachuma Resource Conservation District, along with other community partners, joined the Santa Barbara Foundation LEAF Initiative have developed the Santa Barbara County Conservation Blueprint. The Blueprint is the first comprehensive compilation of the natural resource and land assets in the county designed to inform conversations about the future of the region and transform how to approach conservation and development in the future. The LTSBC’s projects range from small, volunteer-based work days at Coronado Butterfly Preserve or Arroyo Hondo, to a $2.4 million major overhaul of 35 acres in the West Goleta Slough.

  1. Land Trust of Napa County (Napa)

The Land Trust of Napa County is celebrating 41 years of preservation in Napa. The Land Trust has permanently protected 65,000 acres of land throughout Napa County. That is 12% of Napa county. 250 projects: 140 conservation agreements, 19 properties transferred to resource agencies, 16 properties protected through ownership, 9 permanent preserves.

  1. Land Trust of Santa Cruz County (Santa Cruz)

Since its founding in 1978, the Land Trust has raised $62 million in funding for conservation, and has protected more than 14,000 acres – directly and through partnerships. In the spring of 2015, the Land Trust’s Board approved a five-year Strategic Plan. It calls for focused work on building 45 miles of new trails in the county, raising matching funds to build the Coastal Rail Trail, driving the Highway 17 Wildlife Crossing to completion, and protecting more Pajaro Valley farmland. It also calls for continued stewardship of the 14,000 acres under the Land Trust’s care.

  1. Lassen Land and Trails Trust (Susanville)

Lassen Land and Trails Trust has been working for over a quarter century to conserve all that makes our region ‘home’ for our friends and neighbors, as well as wildlife. Lying at the convergence of the Sierra Nevada, Cascade, Modoc Plateau and Great Basin, our northeastern California home offers a broad diversity of landscapes from alpine mountains and meadows to the sage-steppe of the high desert. The Lassen Land and Trails Trust is dedicated to conserving these resources along with the character and heritage of our region.

  1. Marin Agricultural Land Trust (Point Reyes Station)

Since the 1960’s, this venerable Land Trust has worked with 81 farming families to preserve nearly 50,000 acres in Marin County. MALT’s primary goal is to protect working farms in Marin County, and in doing so, protect so much more than the land itself. Benefits of sound stewardship practices which are at the core of MALT’s mission include 1) Local food – fresh and healthy, benefitting the community and the planet. 2) Open space – protected farmland provides space and resources for plants and animals to thrive. 3) Clean air and water – stopping sprawl blocks pollution, supporting healthy communities near and far. 4) Carbon abatement – innovative techniques on the leading edge of the fight against climate change.

  1. McKinleyville Land Trust (McKinleyville)

North of Arcata, in Humboldt County, The McKinleyville Land Trust is dedicated to the conservation of our local open spaces for their ecological, historical, agricultural, educational, recreational and scenic values. It was started in 1994 as a result of local residents’ response to the development of the Mill Creek Shopping Center and its potential impacts on Mill Creek. Today, the McKinleyville Land Trust manages three, valuable and wild rural properties.

  1. Mendocino Land Trust (Mendocino)

The Mendocino Land Trust works with individual landowners, an army of volunteers and the California State Park system to conserve and restore ecologies across Mendocino county. Last fall the MLT helped a landowner protect 2,000 acres of family forestland near Point Arena, including 4.8 miles of streams and habitat for endangered owls and mountain beavers.  Looking ahead, the Land Trust is working with the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council to protect land that is being donated to the Potter Valley Tribe by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. These lands are along Trout and Alder creeks in the Eel River area east of Potter Valley, and will provide tribal family members with a treasured place for cultural education and recreation.  The MLT also plans to open a picnic area and trail at the Ten Mile Estuary Preserve, a project that is coming soon.  The land in this area was donated to the Land Trust in the summer of 2016 by The Conservation Fund.

  1. Mojave Desert Land Trust (Johsua Tree)

Through direct-action land stewardship, land acquisition, easement management and investing in their own private native plant nursery for desert habitat restoration, MDLT is leading the way for other California Land Trust organizations with a dynamic agenda to protect and defend the Mojave Desert. MDLT protects land within the entire California portion of the eastern Mojave and Colorado deserts – 24.5 million acres in all. MDLT focus on parcels within national parks and preserves, wilderness areas, areas of critical environmental concern, and wildlife linkage corridors. We have successfully conserved land in Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve, Mojave Trails National Monument, and Death Valley National Park.

  1. Mother Lode Land Trust (Jackson)

Since 2006 MLLT has been working with the Stewardship Council on plans to help PG&E divest itself of over 140,000 acres of watershed land in California.  The MLLT manages the 244-acre Kennedy Meadows property, 515 acres of Middle Fork Stanislaus River frontage in Tuolumne County, another 460-acre Conservation Easement at Lyons Reservoir, 899 acres at Bear River Reservoir, 1,400 acres at Blue Lakes in Alpine County, 1,100 acres at Doaks Ridge on the Mokelumne, and an additional 2,300 acres of river frontage along various reaches of the Mokelumne including Tiger Creek, Tabeaud Reservoir, and the Electra Powerhouse. These projects enhance the natural environment as well as ensure that public use is honored and improved. In 2016, MLLT received a grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to complete a Watershed Assessment and Management Plan at our recently acquired Land Gulch Ranch.  This property is adjacent to the Pine Mountain Lake neighborhood and will focus on recreational opportunities as well as the watershed and Great Gray Owl preservation.  The components of the Plan will be a Timber Management Plan, Great Gray Owl Study, Recreation Plan, and Watershed Assessment.

  1. Mountains Restoration Trust (Calabasas)

MRT is a land trust in the Santa Monica Mountains. MRT’s primary method of operating is to work with the local community to expand nature preserves with the expressed intent of protect the unique biodiversity found in the area. Major projects include the 92-acre gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains called Headwaters Corner at Calabasas & Dry Canyon Creek, the 1600-acre Cold Creek Preserve (a SEA – Significant Ecological Area) and the La Sierra Preserve.

  1. Muir Heritage Land Trust (Martinez)

John Muir Land Trust permanently protects land throughout Alameda County and Contra Costa County to safeguard our beautiful environment for people, animals and plants alike. The Martinez Regional Land Trust which later became the MHLT was incorporated in 1989 to protect 150 acres of Alhambra Valley open space. That property is now called Stonehurst — located within the community of the same name. Just three years later, the Land Trust made possible the addition of a 325-acre Mount Wanda property to the John Muir National Historic Site. The MHLT is responsible for finding, acquiring and taking care of all JMLT properties, protecting and caring for open space, ranches, farms, parkland and shoreline in the East Bay, which now total over 3,100 acres.

  1. Nature Reserve of Orange County (Irvine)

Part of the Natural Communities Coalition (NCC), the Nature Reserve of Orange County was established in 1996 as one of the first implementation steps following the signing of a landscape-scale habitat planning and conservation effort—the Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP) for the Central and Coastal Subregion of Orange County, California. The plan provides long-term protection for wildlife and their critical habitats, and regulatory assurances and economic benefits for participating landowners. In 2003, the Nature Reserve of Orange County created a habitat restoration and enhancement plan for the Central for the Central and Coastal Subregion.  The plan identifies and prioritizes potential restoration areas within the reserve and provides detailed information on the most effective methods of associated costs of restoration activities. A revision of the plan is expected in late 2018.

  1. North Coast Regional Land Trust (Bayside)

The NCRLT works in Trinity, Humboldt and Del Norte counties and is responsible for conserving and monitoring more than 25,000 acres of ranch, farm, and timber land, including projects under the Six Rivers to the Sea Initiative. The are responsible for protecting 320 acres of old- and mature- growth forest with salmon-spawning streams. They manage and have restored 195 acres of agricultural land and estuarine habitat. In 2009, NRLT conducted restoration activities on Freshwater Farms Reserve and have facilitated public access on normally restricted private property through naturalist-led events. They work to engage their diverse community with the develop a 100-year common vision for land use plan.

  1. Northern California Regional Land Trust (Chico)

The NCRLT’s program area includes Tehama, Glenn, and Butte counties, from the western slopes of the Sierra-Cascade Crest, across the Sacramento River Valley, to the eastern slopes of the North Coast Range. Within this approximately 6,000 square mile region, the NCRLT’s priorities are the conservation of farms, ranches, and open space important to our region’s economic well-being, ecological health, and quality of life. The Land Trust was founded in 1990 under the former name of “Parks and Preserves Foundation” and functioned as a local, grass-roots land trust that promoted cooperative preservation and enhancement of scenic, open space and significant habitat resources in Butte County. The NCRLT currently holds 29 conservation easements in Butte and Tehama counties covering over 15,500 acres. Our smallest easement is 0.39 acre, while our largest acquisition is 4,235 acres. In addition to conserving working landscapes and prime farmland, the NCRLT is also interested in conservation easements that protect natural resources and regional biodiversity. As such, many of the easements preserve natural oak woodlands, riparian areas, conifer forest, grasslands and a large population of special-status Butte County checkerbloom. The majority of these properties are in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

  1. Pacific Forest Trust (San Francisco)

For more than 20 years, Pacific Forest Trust has epitomized innovation, daring, and a savvy understanding of market forces to create new economic incentives that reward private forest owners for conserving their lands and practicing sustainable forestry. Working closely with other forest stakeholders, from landowners to agencies to environmental nonprofit partners, The Pacific Forest Trust creates and advances high-leverage, catalytic strategies that engage the commitment, imagination, and resources of many individuals, businesses, and organizations to make it easier and more rewarding to do good things for the forests—and forest landowners—on which we all depend. The only conservation organization focused on private forests in California, Oregon, and Washington, we’ve conserved 250,000 acres of vital forestland regionally.

  1. Peninsula Open Space Trust (Palo Alto)

The Peninsula, tucked between San Francisco and San Jose, is known the world over for its beauty, great weather and as a global epicenter of education and innovation. To those who live here, it is special because we have struck a magical balance between rural beauty and urban lifestyle and opportunity. This unique balance is no accident. It is the result of over 40 years of vision, focus and tenacious land protection work. POST is a driving force behind this work. POST has protected over 75,000 acres of open space, farms and parkland since our founding in 1977. In that time, we have developed a proven methodology for successful land protection by purchasing the land and placing permanent protection on it through conservation easements. Once the protection work is complete we continue to take care of the land in perpetuity.

  1. Sacramento Valley Conservancy (Sacramento)

SVC’s mission is to preserve the beauty, character and diversity of the Sacramento Valley landscape by working with citizens, property owners, developers, public agencies and other nonprofit organizations. It preserves dedicated open space by the acceptance of gifts, private purchase, facilitation of public acquisition, conservation easements and by cooperative efforts. Their total acreage count of land protected is 17,584 and the flagship property is Deer Creek Hills Preserve, and located in eastern Sacramento county on Latrobe Road in Sloughhouse. Being the largest open space preserve in Sacramento County and working cattle ranch, it boasts over 4,500 acres of Blue Oak Woodlands, seasonal creeks and grasslands.

  1. Sempervirens Fund (Los Altos) http://www,

Sempervirens Fund is California’s oldest land trust and the only organization dedicated exclusively to protecting the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Great Park is Sempervirens Fund’s vision of a beautiful, healthy, accessible redwood forest between Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean and one of the most exciting conservation visions in California today. The Great Park protects remaining old-growth redwoods as well as second-growth redwood forests. The vision integrates both public and private land into a magnificent, resilient whole. The Great Park encompasses 215 square miles of redwood forest and watersheds in the Santa Cruz Mountains (138,000 acres) stretching from Pescadero Creek to Wilder Ranch, from Skyline to the sea. The Great Park will protect remaining old-growth redwoods, as well as second-growth redwoods that are only 50-150 years into their 2,000-year lifespan. Once protected and connected, the natural systems can reassert themselves, and the healthy forest can sustain itself – and us — for countless centuries to come. It will provide a safe home for wildlife — like mountain lions, marbled murrelet and salmon – and crucial refuge and recreation for us all. About 2/3 of the Great Park area is already protected – hosting countless people and animals every day. But, 61 square miles (39,000 acres) of priority forest land are still vulnerable to subdivisions and development. A vast Sequoia sempervirens forest thrived here for at least 20 million years – and with the help of the Sempervirens Fund, may support people and wildlife for 20 million more.

  1. Sequoia Riverlands Trust (Visalia)

Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT) is dedicated to strengthening California’s heartland and the natural and agricultural legacy of the southern Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley. SRT engages landowners, farmers, conservationists, business partners, and governmental agencies in the counties of Tulare, Fresno, Kern and Kings to collaborate on land conservation throughout California’s South Central Valley heartland. To date, Sequoia Riverlands Trust has protected more than 20,000 acres. SRT owns and manages six nature preserves that protect 4,089 acres of remnant landscapes, woodland communities and wildlife habitat. SRT holds conservation easements on more than 13,366 acres of protected land, most of them on working farms and ranches. SRT has also collaborated with agencies, other non-profit conservation organizations and landowners to protect almost 4,700 additional acres, including 2,388 acres with deed restrictions on Bureau of Land Management land within Carrizo Plain National Monument.

  1. Shasta Land Trust (Redding)

Conserving the beauty, character, and diversity of significant lands in far Northern California Since 1998, Shasta Land Trust has led efforts to identify and conserve significant lands in the north state that provide local benefits such as open space, wildlife habitat, scenic views, recreation, and working agricultural lands. Shasta Land Trust has preserved 23,947 acres on 15 properties.

  1. Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council (Nevada City)

Occupying only a third of California’s landmass, the Sierra Cascade provides over 60 percent of the state’s clean drinking water. Half of California’s plant and animal species are found in the Sierra Cascade region, and more than 50 million visitors come each year to enjoy the spectacular scenery and abundant recreational opportunities found here. Ten local land trusts based in the Sierra Nevada and California Cascades, together with their four state and national partners, want to make sure that our region continues to thrive. These 14 groups comprise The Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council.

  1. Sierra County Land Trust (Sierra City)

The Sierra Buttes and Lakes Basin is one of the most compelling and visually beautiful features in the Sierra Nevada. Pristine and set off the beaten path, this region seems how Tahoe might have looked before it was overcome by vacation homes and tourist towns. There are still 55 private properties within the basin, totaling almost 3,000 acres. The potential development of some of these private lands threatens this spectacular area. In addition to an ambitious management and education outreach agenda, the SCLT is currently working to create a long-term endowment fund to protect the Buttes.

  1. Sierra Foothill Conservancy (Mariposa)

The grasslands, foothills, and forests between Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks provide land for farms and ranches, a home for native plants and wildlife, and a source of clean water. Sierra Foothill Conservancy honors our natural and cultural heritage by protecting these resources and ensuring that present and future generations will continue to experience and enjoy the land in this region. At this moment in its history, the Sierra Foothill Conservancy is the proud owner of eight nature preserves, totaling 6,481 acres. Although they are all located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, they are remarkably diverse in their history, their topography, and their plant and animal life. In fact, they stand as splendid examples of the rich diversity of different habitat types in this region. SFC offers guided hikes on several of their preserves.

  1. Siskiyou Land Trust (Mt. Shasta)

Across Siskiyou County are many landowners that have a strong connection to the land that they own. People who want to conserve and protect their land into the future sometimes need financial assistance or someone to carry forward their wishes.  Without help from an organization like the Siskiyou Land Trust, all too often these special places disappear forever. Key Holdings and Projects of the SLT include: 1) Sisson Meadow, Mount Shasta, CA protecting 7.7 acres of scenic view-shed and wetland habitat. 2) Trinity River Conservation Easement, Trinity County, CA protecting 70 acres of open space, view-shed and wildlife habitat corridor. 3) Scott Valley Conservation Easement, Siskiyou County, CA protecting 5,500 acres of agricultural land, river corridor and wildlife habitat. And 4) Hammond Reservoir, Weed, CA protecting 67 acres of open space and wildlife habitat.

  1. Solano Land Trust (Fairfield)

Founded in 1986 as the Solano County Farmlands and Open Space Foundation, the group changed its name in 2004 to the Solano Land Trust. Solano Land Trust was established as a result of litigation involving open space advocates, land developers and a municipal government. This unusual genesis created a board that reflects all sides of land-use issues united in the mission to preserve the agricultural legacy and natural landscapes of Solano County. Using innovative, non-confrontational techniques, SLT has permanently protected 22,161 acres of natural areas and agricultural lands to date. SLT’s anchor properties at Jepson Prairie Preserve, King-Swett Ranches, Lynch Canyon, Rush Ranch and Rockville Trails represent the rich and varied landscape that makes Solano County unique. From rare vernal pools to tidal marsh wetlands to rolling serpentine grasslands, our properties serve an important role in preserving these habitats for residents in the local community, the Greater Bay Area and all of California.

  1. Sonoma Land Trust (Santa Rosa)

In November of 2007, Sonoma Land Trust purchased a 1,665-acre property in southern Sonoma County at risk of subdivision and vineyard development and named it Tolay Creek Ranch. The acquisition of Tolay Creek Ranch also completed the protection of a 7,500-acre wildlife corridor extending from the foothills of Sonoma Mountain to the bay. With sweeping views of San Francisco Bay, dazzling wildflower displays and plenty of space for hiking, the ranch was well suited to becoming a park — particularly since it is situated adjacent to 1,737-acre Tolay Lake Regional Park. Today, after nearly 10 years of resource assessments, habitat enhancement and creek restoration activities, Sonoma Land Trust has donated Tolay Creek Ranch to Sonoma County Regional Parks, a move that will double the size of Tolay Lake park. This is but one of many projects in a portfolio of works that includes dozen of preserves, easements and completed projects in the portfolio of the Sonoma Land Trust, an extremely successful organization.

  1. Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust (Yuba City)

Preserving agricultural land has become the primary focus of Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust. With more than 20 land trusts working to protect Central Valley farmland, habitat and native vegetation, increased demand for partners to manage and monitor easements has become essential. Becoming an active and respected regional conservation partner is necessary for the long-term sustainability of the organizations and it efforts. The Sutter, Colusa and Yuba County region encompasses approximately 2,200 square miles or 1.4 million acres located in the valley of north of Sacramento. Current growth projections will result in as much as 34,000 acres of critical habit, agricultural lands, wetlands, and open space slated for development.

  1. Tri Valley Conservancy (Livermore)

Tri-Valley Conservancy’s mission is “to permanently protect the fertile soils, rangelands, open space and biological resources and to support a viable agricultural economy, in the Tri-Valley area.” The TVC accomplishes this mission by providing landowners with a flexible, voluntary alternative to subdividing or developing their property. With over 7,000 acres preserved in the Livermore valley across 64 Conservation Easements on over 100 properties, The South Livermore Valley Area Plan (SLVAP) was created to preserve the area’s vineyards and wineries, enhance recognition as a premium wine-producing region, and to incentivize investment and expansion of vineyards and other cultivated agriculture. Additionally, The South Livermore Valley Specific Plan (SLVSP) requires that development occurring in the area must preserve one acre for every house built and for every acre built on, an additional acre must be preserved (i.e. five houses built on one acre = six acres to be preserved).

  1. Trinidad Coastal Land Trust (Trinidad)

The Land Trust’s twenty coastal properties are managed by volunteers and landowners for public access, recreation and open space protections. Some of the properties owned by the TCLT include Houda Point/Camel Rock Beach Park, Baker Beach, north Luffenholtz Beach, our future Little River Trail property, Pilot Point, Saunders Park and public access easements to Moonstone Beach and Secret Beach. The Trinidad Coastal Land Trust owns, for public benefit, some of the most beautiful coastal properties and beach access trails. The TCLT owns and manages nine properties (fee title, or complete ownership) and the additional eleven conservation easements are held on private properties. In total, twenty properties located from Little River to Big Lagoon are protected to date, and three additional, significant public trail projects are in the works

  1. Truckee Donner Land Trust (Truckee)

Over the years, The Truckee Donner Land Trust has protected over 33,000 acres, ensuring continued recreational access and protecting lands for future generations. We are determined to protect another 24,500 acres in the coming years with a value of over $40 million. Public access and recreation are extremely important to the Land Trust’s work. We are the builders and stewards of the Donner Lake Rim Trail, a 23-mile multi-use trail. Volunteers can also join us in trail construction, maintenance, signage installation, and construction of picnic areas and campgrounds. Go to their website for trail-building dates.

  1. Yolo Land Trust (Woodland)

Yolo Land Trust (YLT) conserves farmland and ranchland by providing landowners with a viable financial alternative to selling their land for development. The most common method is through conservation easements, by which landowners maintain ownership, but agree to never develop their land. Conservation easements help keep farmers farming, and ranchers ranching. Yolo Land Trust has permanently protected 11,000 acres of farmland through over 60 conservation easements, and the fee ownership of an easement-restricted farm. Yolo Land Trust also supports habitat protection for plants and animals that depend upon farmland and the adjacent sloughs, creeks and rivers for survival.