Local land trusts across the U.S. had protected almost 6.4 million acres by the end of 2000, according to the Land Trust Alliance. That’s more than a threefold increase since 1990. And for the first time, the group said, land trusts had conserved land in all 50 states. California had the most land under protection at 1.2 million acres; New York, 552,000 acres; and Montana, 505,000 acres. The land was either purchased outright by the trusts — and then sometimes turned over to local, state, or federal agencies — or put under conservation easement, where landowners gave up their rights to develop their land in exchange for money and tax breaks. The Land Trust Alliance survey did not include the millions of acres of land protected by national groups like the Nature Conservancy.