The Results Are In – A Survey of Wisconsin Land Trusts

In April 2017, Gathering Waters surveyed member land trusts about their current priorities and activities, as well as what they see as needs and opportunities for the future. Representatives of 37 out of 44 land trusts completed the online survey – an 84% response rate!

Following are some highlights of what land trusts say about their conservation priorities, resources they use to determine those priorities, and types of funding for their land acquisition and management activities.

Conservation priorities

  • The top five primary priorities are: wetlands, wildlife areas, river & stream corridors, forests, and habitats of rare or endangered species.
  • Wetlands and watersheds/water quality topped the overall priorities (including both primary and secondary ratings), followed closely by open space, wildlife areas, river & stream corridors, and forests.

Resources used to determine land trust conservation priorities

  • Land trusts’ own strategic plans are an essential guide for conservation priority setting.
  • Wisconsin DNR and federal agency priorities are also important in priority-setting for many land trusts.

Project financing

Within the categories of federal, state, local, and private funding, land trusts listed a variety of programs and donors they leverage to finance acquisitions and land management.

  • Private funding is the type of funding source they tap the most often.
  • State conservation programs are also critical funding sources, with the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program mentioned specifically by 75% of those land trusts that finance projects with state funding.

In a future blog post, we will share the responses to questions about Wisconsin land trusts’ needs and their vision for the future.

This survey will also inform Gathering Waters’ strategic plan and help us prioritize our programming to support a strong Wisconsin land trust community.