Conservation Trusts

Sally K. Fairfax and Darla Guenzler

In the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, a conservation trust helped stabilize and regenerate the damaged area. When bird habitats along the Platte River were threatened by Grayrocks Dam, a similar trust came to their rescue. And if a family wants to protect its land for future generations, establishing a trust may be the best solution.

For more than a century, bequests of land and funds for environmental protection have been common, but in recent decades the trusts used to address conservation issues and resolve environmental disputes have diversified and grown significantly. This book examines a variety of conservation organizations built on or close to trust principles—some government creations, some private, some combinations of the two—to explain how conservation trusts are created and how they work. It explores strengths and weaknesses of the trust concept, considers the widespread use of land trusts, and presents case studies that both illustrate successes and give instructive examples of potential pitfalls.

“This book is a most welcome analysis of whether conservation trusts can live up to their promise as an efficient and responsive environmental protection policy. Both practical and theoretical, it will be useful for local protection advocates as well as scholars interested in the history of environmental governance.

—H-Net Reviews

“A book at the cutting edge of environmental governance. It describes the enormous advantages as well as the downsides of the array of organizations based on trust principles emerging in landscape management. The authors weave together useful, practical advice on trust design and sophisticated analysis of implications for democratic accountability.”

—Helen Ingram, coauthor of Policy Design for Democracy and Divided Waters

See all reviews...

Drawing on cases from Maine to Hawaii, the authors examine the different kinds and configurations of trusts. They consider government trusts that blend federal, state, and local agencies into a single entity or that derive funding from outside legislative and executive channels; trusts established by government and private cooperation to share responsibility for jointly held and managed resources; and trusts established by private organizations and families. For each type, they explain why each is created, how it operates, and whether it has been proven effective. They also address the important issue of accountability-and consider when a trust is not the answer to a problem.

As more Americans reject federal control of land in favor of local determination, land trusts have become the most popular tool for the preservation of land, habitats, and species. And as the sharing of authority among public, private, and diverse government partners becomes more prevalent, sound guidelines for establishing effective trusts are critical. This book shows how the trust template provides an invaluable approach for future conservation efforts and is a primer for anyone involved in environmental management.

About the Author

Sally K. Fairfax is professor of natural resource policy, administration, and law at the University of California, Berkeley, and coauthor of State Trust Lands: History, Management, and Sustainable Use, also published by Kansas. Darla Guenzler is associate director of the Bay Area Open Space Council.

Additional Titles in the Development of Western Resources Series