TPL Praises NGA’s Working Land Report

PROVIDENCE, 8/6/01 – Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land, today praised the National Governors Association (NGA) for advocating agricultural land protection, specifically the purchase of development rights (PDRs) on private working lands, in a new report released by NGA.

Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa and Theodore Roosevelt IV, Chairman of the League of Conservation Voters, released the report – Private Lands, Public Benefits: Principles for Advancing Working Lands Conservation – at the NGA annual meeting today. Rogers, Roosevelt, and others participated in NGA’s first-ever “Policy Summit on Working Lands Conservation,” which was convened by Governor Vilsack in Washington DC in March.

Private Lands, Public Benefits addresses the importance of “working lands conservation” – conserving natural resources and the environment through the protection of and correct practices on privately owned agricultural land. One of the elements of working lands conservation that the report recommends is the use of conservation easements and the purchase of development rights.

“The protection of America’s best private farm, forest, and ranch lands through conservation easements, PDRs, and other voluntary, market-based means is an effective way to achieve smart growth, prevent urban sprawl, and ensure communities’ economic vitality,” said TPL’s Rogers.

“Governor Tom Vilsack, Governor Frank Keating, Governor Parris Glendening, and the NGA deserve credit for highlighting the importance of incentive-based tools, such as the purchase of development rights and conservation easements, to save working lands across America. These tools help protect private agricultural lands and keep families in ranching, farming, and forestry.

“PDRs and conservation easements allow farmers, ranchers, and foresters to continue to own and work their land and to keep taxes low. By preventing development on working landscapes, local resource-based economies benefit. Further, because PDRs and conservation easements do not require the full purchase of agricultural lands, PDRs and conservation easements keep private land in production and are cost-efficient for the state, local, and federal governments that fund them,” said Rogers.

“NGA, in this report, finds that states and localities are the leaders in creating and funding public PDR programs. The report also finds that all levels of government, including the federal government, must do more to advance these conservation tools. Both the Farm Bill and the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) should help meet the strong demand from farmers, ranchers, and local governments for PDRs and conservation easements – a demand that far exceeds the available federal funding,” said Rogers.

Earlier this year, TPL, the Western Governors’ Association, and the National Cattlemens’ Beef Association published “Purchase of Development Rights: Conserving Lands, Preserving Western Livelihoods,” a guide to the use of PDRs to protect and maintain productive farm and ranch land in the West.

In conclusion, Rogers praised the out-going NGA Chair, Governor Glendening, for his leadership of NGA in 2000-2001 and for his yearlong initiative on smart growth “Where Do We Grow From Here?”

“Governor Glendening has championed prudent land use in Maryland, as well as the pursuit of smart growth across the country. His efforts to reduce urban sprawl and to protect land for people and communities deserve recognition and praise,” said Rogers.

The Trust for Public Land is a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting land for people. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs.

For copies of “Purchase of Development Rights: Conserving Lands,” visit or call 1-800-714-LAND.