|Founded at||San Francisco, California, US|
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Trust for Public Land is a U.S. nonprofit organization with a mission to "create parks and protect land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come". Since its founding in 1972, The Trust for Public Land has completed 5,000 park-creation and land conservation projects across the United States, protected over 3 million acres, and helped pass more than 500 ballot measures—creating $70 billion in voter-approved public funding for parks and open spaces. The Trust for Public Land also researches and publishes authoritative data about parks, open space, conservation finance, and urban climate change adaptation. Headquartered in San Francisco, the organization is among the largest U.S. conservation nonprofits, with approximately 30 field offices across the U.S., including a federal affairs function in Washington, D.C.
Consistent with its "Land for People" mission, The Trust for Public Land is widely known for urban conservation work, including New York City playgrounds and community gardens, Chicago's 606 linear park, Los Angeles green alleys, Climate-Smart Cities programs in 20 American cities, and "The 10-Minute Walk" initiative, which aims to put a high-quality park or open space within a 10-minute walk of every resident of every U.S. urban census tract.
The Trust for Public Land simultaneously focuses on public access-oriented land protection, such as additions to Yosemite National Park, the Appalachian Trail, Cape Cod National Seashore, and other national, state, and municipal parks across America. The organization also prioritizes projects that celebrate and advance social equity, like helping to create Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, the Stonewall National Monument, and the Kashia Coastal Reserve.
Although The Trust for Public Land is an accredited land trust, the organization differs from conventional land trusts in that it does not generally hold or steward conservation property interests. Instead, The Trust for Public Land works with community members, public agencies, and other conservation non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to identify park-creation and land protection projects, and then helps plan, fund, protect, and/or create those spaces, with ownership of any resulting property interests typically transferring to local, state, or federal public agencies, or to other conservation NGOs.
In addition to creating parks and protecting open spaces, The Trust for Public Land is a leading advocate for public conservation funding at the local, state, and federal levels. Through campaigns, ballot measures, and legislative advocacy, the organization works—often in concert with its affiliated 501(c)(4) nonprofit, The Trust for Public Land Action Fund—to ensure adequate funding for many of the federal and state public funding programs relied on by public park and conservation agencies, and by conservation NGOs.
The Trust for Public Land also researches, publishes, and contributes to many authoritative national databases and platforms providing information about U.S. parks, protected open spaces, conservation finance, and urban climate risks, including ParkScore, ParkServe, Parkology, The Conservation Alamanac, the National Conservation Easement Database, LandVote, and "Climate-Smart Cities" Decision Support Tools.
The Trust for Public Land was founded in San Francisco in 1972 by Huey Johnson, the former western regional director of The Nature Conservancy, and other San Francisco Bay Area and national lawyers and conservationists. Johnson's goal was to create an organization that would use emerging real estate, legal, and financial techniques to conserve land for human use and public benefit. An additional founding goal was to extend the conservation and environmental movements to cities, where an increasingly large segment of the population lived. Early Trust for Public Land programs of the 1970s and ‘80s included:
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, The Trust for Public Land is legally limited in the amount it can spend on campaigning for legislative and ballot measures. In 2000, the organization launched a 501(c)(4) affiliate, The Conservation Campaign, which is not limited in such spending. This affiliate entity is now called The Trust for Public Land Action Fund and frequently works with The Trust for Public Land to help pass local and state conservation finance measures.