Land Trust an Unexpected Ally in Indiana's Planning Scene

Ole Amundsen discusses the Central Indiana Land Trust's recent work in proactive land use planning, signaling a broader change in the way land trusts are doing business.

Land trusts, according to Amundsen, are traditionally wary of getting involved in the planning process, both out of "[fear] that they will be perceived as taking a side in divisive local issues... [and] that planning might unnecessarily restrict land acquisition options."

But in the face of evidence that trusts with conservation plans can protect twice as much land as those without, some have embraced planning, collaborating both with local governments and community groups.

The Central Indiana Land Trust, for one, drafted a land conservation plan spanning nine counties in 2010, called Greening the Crossroads. "At 316,000 acres, the scale of the network is far more than the land trust can undertake alone – and that's the point," writes Amundsen. "The trust specifically sought to act as the convener of a large regional planning process, filling a role typically played by a regional planning agency or state government planners."

Local planners benefited from access to "detailed information and GIS layers that the land trust [provided] to identify critical lands, which is often the most time-consuming part of the planning process to document." The group's recommendations have been incorporated into a host of local plans and ordinances, enabling better vertical integration of land use goals.

"Increasingly, land trusts are serving as catalysts, convening planning processes to rally public support and motivate action by public planning agencies."

Full Story: Landscape-Scale Planning Coming to a Community Near You

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