Fifth Annual County Land Conservation Award Winners Announced

WASHINGTON, D.C. 3/7/2009: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) today announced three winning programs for the fifth annual County Leadership in Conservation Awards, which recognizes leadership, innovation, and excellence on local land conservation and park creation initiatives by county leaders across America.

Large County Category, Winner:
Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program, Hillsborough County, Florida

Medium County Category, Winner:
Regional Open Space and Natural Resource Management Plan, Washoe County, Nevada

Small County Category, Winner:
Beaufort County Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program, Beaufort County, South Carolina

The winning county programs were honored today at the annual NACo Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. In addition to the national recognition, each county receives a travel scholarship to promote countywide land conservation programs as effective solutions to thoughtful regional growth issues.

NACo President Don Stapley, supervisor, Maricopa County, Arizona, and TPL Senior Vice President Ernest Cook noted that the 2009 County Leadership Awards come at a time when counties continue to invest in protection of open space as a strategy for managing growth, despite economic woes.

Since 1996, 201 counties have prioritized land conservation with new or reconsidered conservation programs. In that time these counties have passed 364 ballot measures, generating over $14.7 billion for open space, parks, watersheds, recreational lands, and wildlife preserves. Over 76 percent of all county conservation ballot measures in the last decade have won voter approval.

“American communities are facing numerous challenges, but as we look ahead to how we will grow in better times, local conservation programs are leading us to thoughtful growth,” said Will Rogers, TPL President. “This year’s winners are being recognized for their commitment to creating healthy, livable places.”

Said Stapley, “County officials understand the importance of effective land conservation programs. This award showcases the efforts of several county leaders and will hopefully inspire others to develop land conservation programs in their counties.”

Three or more awards are presented each year to county programs from NACo-member counties. Awards are made in three population categories. The awards were presented in partnership with the National Association of County Planners and the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials.

“As America grows, counties are leading the way with setting aside the places that matter most,” said Will Rogers. “The Trust for Public Land’s partnership with counties-and with the National Association of Counties in particular-shows how creating parks and conserving open space are at the heart of making communities great places to live, work, and play.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2.5 million acres in 46 states. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations and corporations.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. Founded in 1935, NACo provides essential services to the nation’s 3,066 counties. NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public’s understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research, and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. For more information about NACo, visit


County Public Affairs Officers:

Hillsborough County, Florida
Stacy Williams, Community Relations Coordinator
(813) 307-8381 or

Washoe County, Nevada
Bob Harmon, Public Information Officer
(775) 823-6519 or

Beaufort County, South Carolina
Suzanne Larson, Public Information Officer
(843) 470-2810 or