Our History

The Trust for Public Land History
The Trust for Public Land's New York staff, circa 1975
Photo credit: 
Karil Daniels

The Trust for Public Land was founded in 1972 with the goal of protecting land in and around cities and pioneering new land conservation techniques. Over the years, our work expanded to include projects from the inner city to the wilderness, and our broad experience has made us a national leader and innovator in city park creation, state and local conservation funding, and using GIS for conservation planning.

Founded for innovation

Not long after the first Earth Day, a group of lawyers, real estate professionals, and finance experts founded The Trust for Public Land to bring the legal and financial strategies of modern business to the cause of conservation. In the early years, we shared this knowledge with other conservationists and fostered the growth of the local land trust movement to protect open space for communities across the West.

Planning and funding conservation

In the 1990s, responding to an emerging need, we established our Conservation Finance service to help communities organize and pass conservation ballot measures. We pioneered watershed conservation to safeguard drinking water and the use of conservation easements to protect working farms and ranches. Most recently, we launched an award-winning Conservation Vision and GIS service to help communities identify which lands to protect and where parks are needed most.

Moving forward

Today, The Trust for Public Land brings forty years of expertise to conservation projects across the country. In cities, we’re turning vacant lots into community-designed parks and playgrounds. And we're addressing the looming climate crisis with strategies to help reduce greenhouse gasses, promote climate adaptation, and create park-rich, climate-smart cities.