“These protected lands support a wide variety of critical conservation purposes, including improved water quality, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, local foods and healthy forests, “ said Jonathan Jarosz, Heart of the Lakes’ Executive Director. “Moreover they contribute to the economic vitality of our communities and regions, creating exceptional places to live and work.”
91,440 acres are owned by land conservancies as nature preserves or sanctuaries. Conservancies acquire them through purchase or donation and are available to the public for quiet recreation.
109,600 acres are protected by conservation easements, voluntary legal agreements between landowners and land conservancies that permanently protect significant conservation values by restricting future development on natural, scenic, farm and forest lands. The lands remain in private hands and on the tax rolls.
By far the largest segment of lands conservancies protect are assistance or transfers of lands to local government or the state, supporting their efforts to secure parklands and open space. Land conservancies often negotiate with landowners, secure lands and raise funds to make these acquisitions possible. Over 381,930 acres are protected this way.
Land conservancies also manage or steward another 5,070 acres on natural lands owned by other entities.
“We are truly proud of the role land conservancies play in building great communities that are more environmentally and economically vibrant because of their work,” Jarosz stated. “But the real heroes are the many, many families and individuals who work with the conservancies to protect lands they love and the conservation values important to us all.”