The web survey is now closed.
Thank you to the more than 660 land trusts from 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who responded to the 2015 Census!
The Land Trust Alliance has reported on the status and successes of land trusts since its founding in 1982. The Alliance's National Land Trust Census is the nation’s only data source for land protected by private nonprofit organizations in the United States. The Census is both a benchmark and a snapshot of the land trust movement and its growth.
Stories from the 2015 Census
Submitted by Mesa Land Trust, Colorado
“As a kid growing up in the Grand Valley in Western Colorado during the late 1960s, Jane fondly remembers driving with her father, Bob, to the hillsides just outside of town, known as the Three Sisters, to shoot her .22-rifle. The Three Sisters, three beautiful hillsides serving as the foreground to the spectacular Colorado National Monument, were privately owned, yet publicly enjoyed for generations.
Jane's story is one of so many in this valley who grew up exploring the Sisters. However, like all beautiful landscapes close to town, development pressures put this land at risk with a high density residential subdivision. In 2012, the Mesa Land Trust engaged the community in a large, but “grassroots” campaign, to conserve this land as public open space, forever. Since its conservation, local organizations and hundreds of volunteers have worked with Mesa Land Trust to build sustainable hiking and mountain bike trails for beginner trail-users through diverse, native vegetation and fascinating geologic resources.
Today, the Three Sisters is a playground, outdoor lab and classroom, and a place for community good will. New programs bring youth from across the valley through school programs and volunteer opportunities, university research efforts, Latino programming and under-served youth support services to build trails, care for the land and preserve native plants — all while enjoying and connecting to the beautiful landscapes that are right out our back door. The Grand Valley residents are deeply comforted to know that the Three Sisters will continue to generate fond memories and forge rich connections to the land."
Frequently Asked Questions about the Census
When is the Census?
The web survey is now closed. We expect to announce the results in the fall of 2016.
What is a Land Trust?
A land trust is a nonprofit organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by:
- Acquiring land or conservation easements (or assisting with their acquisition), or
- Stewarding/managing land or conservation easements
How long is the survey?
The 2015 survey has about 40 questions and should take no more than 30 minutes to complete, depending on the size and sophistication of your organization and how much information you have at hand. This year’s survey is 44% shorter compared to 2010, with 31 fewer questions. Read more below about improvements we’ve made to the 2015 survey and download the survey questions.
Why should my land trust fill out the questionnaire?
The Census is only as powerful as the data it contains. Using the results of Census as a tool, we can show the collective impact land trusts have on people in their local communities every day and in every region of the country. The release of Census results raised the profile of land conservation in national and regional news — results of the 2010 Census were featured in USA Today, The Washington Post, two Associated Press wire articles and dozens of other media outlets.
When will the results be released?
We will announce preliminary results at Rally in October 2016 and a final report in November. We will also share results through infographics and provide state-level data through an interactive online portal.
What will the Land Trust Alliance do to publicize the results?
The Census is one of the highest-profile news stories the land trust community produces and we expect to field media inquiries from dozens of national and regional news outlets.
We will also prepare a press kit for land trusts to use in their local markets, including template press releases, op-eds and other materials to help you to leverage the Census to raise the profile of your land trust in your community.
Can non-members fill out the survey?
Yes, non-Alliance member land trusts are encouraged to fill out the survey. We welcome input from all US-based land trusts, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
What if I make a mistake in my responses?
If you think that data you submitted may not be correct, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can look up your answers and help you make any necessary changes.
What if I need help understanding the questions?
Alliance staff is here to help. Simply call (202) 638-4725 for assistance.
How do I know you won’t use my data for some other purpose?
With the exceptions noted below, none of your responses will be released in a way that could identify your land trust. The information you provide will only be reported in aggregate form.
If your land trust is a member of the Land Trust Alliance, the following information will be displayed on your organization’s Find a Land Trust profile:
- Mission statement
- Contact information
- Year founded
- Number of full-time employees
- Number of members or financial supporters
- Land protection priorities
- Counties of operation
- Acres protected per state
Many land trust state associations ask land trusts in their state similar questions as those in the National Land Trust Census. To avoid duplication of effort, we will share responses from land trusts in a particular state with that state’s state association or network.
Who can I contact with other questions?
Contact Katie Chang, educational services manager by email at email@example.com or call (202) 800-2241.
You Asked, We Listened
Based on your feedback from the 2010 Census, here’s what you can expect to see this year.
The survey takes too long to complete.
This year’s survey is 44% shorter compared to 2010, with 31 fewer questions.
I fill out this survey every five years but can’t tell where my data goes.
If your land trust responded to the 2010 and 2005 surveys, you will have immediate access to a customized online dashboard showing your progress on key metrics over the past ten years. Download your dashboard report to share with your staff, board, and supporters and celebrate your organizational growth!
You only seem to care about acres.
The Land Trust Alliance understands the importance of showing the land trust community’s impact beyond “bucks and acres.”
New this year, we invited you to tell us, in your own words and photos, how your land trust is making a difference in your community. We’ll share your stories in a national map.
We also added a question about the number of visitors to your land trust’s properties or preserves.
What Hasn’t Changed
Did you know? The first national land trust Census was conducted in 1981, a year before the Land Trust Alliance was established. Though much has changed in 35 years, the need for land trusts to come together with one collective voice remains as important as ever. Thank you for being a part of the story.