History of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust
Created by landowners for landowners
Known throughout the world for its vibrant rural lands, Texas has 142 million acres of privately-owned farms, ranches and forestlands. These working lands produce food and fiber, host diverse wildlife habitats, and provide clean, abundant water. They support rural economies and a multi-billion outdoor recreation industry. Yet Texas leads all other states in the loss of rural lands. A recent study by Texas A&M University (www.texaslandtrends.org) reveals that, between 1997 and 2007, more than 1.1 million acres of working lands were converted to non-agricultural use.
While suburbanization plays a role in rural land loss, fragmentation is also a serious threat. As large properties are divided into smaller parcels they can no longer support agriculture. Fragmentation leads to loss of wildlife habitat, water quality problems, and higher demand for county services.
To address this challenge, American Farmland Trust, a national non-profit, in November 2005 brought together leaders of Texas’ statewide agricultural, wildlife and landowner organizations. The group concluded that a Texas agricultural land trust, created by landowners who understand the day-to-day challenges of farming and ranching, will help stem the irreversible loss of rural lands.
Leaders from Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Wildlife Association, and Texas Farm Bureau convened a steering committee, and drafted by-laws and a certificate of incorporation. In developing the philosophy, mission and principles for the new land trust, careful attention was given to recognizing the landowner’s property rights and to ensuring that those rights will not erode over time.
The result was the creation of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust, a Texas non-profit organization. Modeled on agricultural land trusts in Colorado, Wyoming and California, Texas Ag Land Trust promotes the conservation of open space, wildlife habitats, and natural resources on Texas’ private working lands. Governed by a Board of Directors comprised of men and women who own land themselves, Texas Ag Land Trust today has partnered with landowners to conserve 225,887 acres of prime working lands. Created by farmers and ranchers for farmers and ranchers, Texas Ag Land Trust is proud to play a role in conserving part of Texas’ legacy of wide open spaces.
Protect. Conserve. Pass On.
TALT Is Accredited
Accredited land trusts meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. These land trusts demonstrate their commitment to excellence by adopting Land Trust Standards and Practices, the ethical and technical guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust, and meeting the accreditation requirements drawn from them.
Nonprofit organizations, including land trusts, are increasingly called on to demonstrate their accountability to the public. Accredited land trusts have voluntarily submitted their organizations to an external, independent review of their practices. As a result, accreditation provides the public with the assurance that the land trust displaying the accreditation seal meets established standards for organizational quality and permanent land conservation.
Land trusts help conserve land that is essential to our health and well-being. When land trusts agree to protect land for the benefit of the public, in most cases they do so by promising that the protection is forever. The accreditation program verifies that the land trust has the policies and programs in place to keep this promise, either by caring for the land itself or transferring the land to an entity that can.