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Please note a clarification about the amount of acreage under conservation easement as cited in the Grist article. In 1997 and 1998, we surveyed local, regional, and state land trusts and found they held 1.385 million acres of land in conservation easement, while protecting 4.7 million acres
by all methods of protection (easement, fee title, and reconveyance). This 1.385 million does not include national land trust organizations that hold conservation easements across the country. The three most prominent national land conservation organizations hold the following acreage under easement, per our 1998 Census:
The Nature Conservancy: 807,409 acres
American Farmland Trust: 45,900 acres
Ducks Unlimited: 83,291 acres
(Each of these organizations probably has updated their totals since then.)
We have no numbers for the acreage under conservation easement on federal land and have been unable to locate this information. We do not quote a nationwide number for TOTAL conservation easement acreage in the U.S. As far as we know, no one has come up with that number.

LTA Director of Information Services


Here are some answers to your questions:
1) I don't have current numbers for the acreage owned in fee by national land trusts - you should contact those organizations directly to get their latest information.
2) As mentioned, we don't have any good information on easements or land held in fee by the federal government. The last report I know of providing any information was from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) in March, 1996. The title is "Land Ownership: Information on the Acreage, Management, and Use of Federal and Other Lands" and this provides
information on changes in "(1) the ownership of the lands managed by the four primary federal land management agencies-the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service and the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service-from June 1964 through September 1994 and (2) the number of acres managed for
conservation. This report also includes information on the (1) nonfederal acreage that is subject to federal rights-of-use such as easements and leases, (2) acreage held in trust for Indians, (3) acreage owned by 13 selected western states, and (4) acreage involved in the land transactions
of three nonprofit organizations-The Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, and The Trust for Public Land.3 Appendix I contains, among other things, supplemental information on (1) the means by which the four federal agencies acquired acreage and their plans for acquiring additional acreage, (2) federal acreage where hunting is not allowed, and (3) nonfederal acreage
affected by selected environmental regulations" (from the introduction). [A .pdf version is available at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/useftp.cgi?IPaddress=
3) Our numbers for regional, state, and local land trusts include some public entities that operate as land trusts. Our census survey asks for acreage under three categories: owned in fee; under conservation easement; and acquired and transferred to a public agency, or land protected through holding of deed restrictions, acquiring mineral rights, or negotiating for acquisition by other organizations or agencies. This is all described in our "1998 National Directory of Conservation Land Trusts." We are planning another census this year to get updated numbers.