It’s an interesting time to be running any sort of nonprofit, but especially so for those that specialize in buying and conserving land. The market crash has staved off development pressures in most parts of the country as new housing starts are slumping, putting on hold the constant race to buy parcels with important conservation or agricultural characteristics before homebuilders do. Many land trusts are looking to capitalize on the trend, and have only to contend with the general climate of slowing financial support for conservation groups.

The good news, though, gleaned from conversations I’ve had with the directors of several land-buying member groups of the Orion Grassroots Network is that so far they’ve not experienced a downturn in donations. Some trusts have actually seen an increase in support. This is great and would be even greater if land prices in the US were trending down with house prices, but they aren’t falling much (unless there’s a house on the land), as sellers resolve to wait out the doldrums.

So now would seem to be a ripe time to support your local land trust, and to point out to them any parcels which you think deserve protection – too often, trusts don’t have the time and resources to track all of the possible acquisitions they ought to consider, and appreciate a solid tip.

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