A new $1 million fund has been established by the Colcom Foundation to provide short-term loans and technical assistance to regional land trusts for critical land conservation purchases.
Tom Saunders, president and chief executive officer for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which will administer the fund, said it increases the ability of land trusts to act quickly when land conservation opportunities arise.
"Opportunities in natural habitat protection can be fleeting," said Colcom Foundation Vice President for Philanthropy John F. Rohe. "The foundation is privileged to impart an essential element of agility into local land conservation efforts."
The conservancy, founded in 1932, has conserved more than 228,000 acres - nearly half of all the land conserved by land trusts in the state - and can use that experience to provide technical support. Land trusts that borrow from the Colcom Revolving Fund for Local Land Trusts are required to reimburse the fund, providing a stable funding source for multiple organizations and purchases.
One of the fastest growing conservation tools in the U.S., land trusts have conserved 37 million acres, an increase of 54 percent in the last five years.