Statement from Will Rogers, President

Statement from Will Rogers, President

Last year, despite the impact of a severe economic downturn, The Trust for Public Land had another outstanding year of conservation. In 2008 TPL staff, volunteers, donors, and partners worked together to complete 224 transaction projects protecting over 210,000 acres of land with a combined fair market value of $587 million. In addition, TPL and our affiliate, The Conservation Campaign, helped 44 states, counties, and municipalities pass ballot measures that will generate more than $7.5 billion in new funding for parks and open space protection in the years ahead. We completed 17 conservation vision projects – helping communities to develop conservation plans. We completed some of our most ambitious projects, such as the Santa Fe Railyard Park & Plaza, and with our partner, The Nature Conservancy, we completed the first phase of one of the largest land conservation deals ever undertaken, The Montana Legacy Project.

However, TPL has not been immune to the impacts of the serious deterioration in the financial and real estate markets. We responded this past week by taking actions to reduce expenses and to restructure TPL. The internal reorganization of TPL will make the organization more efficient and flexible, reduce overhead costs, and give TPL an even better capability to respond quickly to new opportunities. Highlights include a focus on state offices as the primary deliverers of both mission and financial support; the establishment of three divisional management groups; a much greater emphasis on development; greater volunteer engagement; and the consolidation of service functions into single departments.

Regrettably, the second action is staff reductions and the closing of vacant positions to reduce expenses. In the past, we have taken advantage of strong markets to grow TPL’s impact and communities across America have benefited by our investments. Independent analyses have always given TPL high marks for program efficiency, but the current economic conditions require that we reduce costs and shrink investments in markets and programs that are not currently sustainable. Many of our peer organizations are doing the same.

The silver lining in the current economic crisis is that there has never been a better time for land conservation. TPL has the chance to acquire properties that would have been developed, been too expensive, or otherwise never made available. Last year voters across the country passed 71% of ballot measures that generate new funds for conservation indicating a strong enthusiasm for conservation despite hard times. A new and more conservation-oriented White House, along with key leadership in Congress on climate and other legislation, holds the promise of a more robust federal commitment to land protection in the years ahead. TPL and our land for people conservation mission have a bright future on the other side of this deep recession.

We thank you for your continued support of TPL. Working together we’ll get through these turbulent times and take advantage of the many opportunities that lie ahead.

Any press inquiries should go to Tim Ahern at 415-495-4014 or

Posted 1/14/2009