Investing in Communities: Land Trusts' Approaches to Increasing Conservation Through Municipal Land Use Planning and Support in Two Northeastern States

Blood, Kari
Department of Environmental Studies
As open spaces, working lands, and wildlife habitat are increasingly being lost to development, this project investigated the strategies used by not-for-profit land conservation organizations to protect remaining lands by assisting municipal or regional governments and community groups with land use planning. Focusing on the states of New York and New Hampshire, interviews were conducted with land trusts and other land conservation organizations to determine the goals, methods, benefits, challenges, and outcomes of these efforts. Though a few land conservation NGOs have been working with municipalities on land use planning for 10 years or more, it is still a relatively uncommon approach in New York and New Hampshire. The results of the interviews suggest that reaching out to local leaders to provide assistance and education on land conservation and land use planning is proving to be a useful part of a comprehensive approach to land protection. There are a wide variety of approaches being used by land trusts, ranging from formal programs to informal occasional strategies, which may include educational or training activities, technical assistance, convening or facilitating other groups' interactions, funding assistance, and advocacy activities. The organizations in this study have magnified the impact of their land conservation work and advanced their own missions by partnering with, or providing support for, local community leaders and citizens to ensure that communities are better equipped to protect their own natural resources through well-informed land use planning.