Good news on a bad news day…

From USA TODAY:

“Growing efforts to save privately owned farms, ranches and forests from industrial and residential development now preserve about as much open space each year as is lost to sprawl, according to a report out today… additional land protected each year exceeds the 2.2 million acres that the Agriculture Department has estimated is converted annually to “developed land.”

The report is from the Land Trust Alliance, and tracks only land conserved by private land trusts.

So more land is bought and preserved every year by volunteer money than is bought by private capital and developed for profit? Can this be?? If so, it is very good news on a very bad news day.

Edit: It must be true in California. From the LA Times, this article following up on the Land Trust Alliance report:

“The number of land trusts in California increased by 50% in the last five years, reflecting dramatic growth in private conservation efforts across the country… In California, the number of trusts jumped from 132 to 198 over the five-year period ending in 2005.

Land protected by local and regional trusts rose by 39%, to 1.7 million acres.

When acreage conserved by big national groups, such as the Nature Conservancy, is added, about 3.3% of the state is protected by trusts, according to the alliance.

During the period reviewed by the report, California voters approved $10 billion worth of conservation bond measures, providing money that trusts could tap into.”

Much of the new protected land is contributed by ranchers and farmers who are selling their land to the land trusts as conservation easements. This ensures that they retain working use of the land, and are further assured that they won’t have to spend their retirement years on their front porches watching all the new traffic from the tract homes on the back forty.

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