The link between land conservation and water protection means that land trusts — whose business it is to protect, restore and defend land — are perfectly positioned to lead water quality initiatives by example.

A recent Alliance survey found that of the 94 percent of land trusts that have identified water quality as a top conservation objective, and nearly all target streams, rivers and wetlands for protection. Over 90 percent protect waterways, known as riparian corridors. Even 59 percent target lands that absorb water and recharge aquifers below ground. These land trusts aren’t just protecting water sources, they are protecting drinking water.

The Land Trust Alliance is committed to supporting our members and their supporters as we all explore new ways to be involved in water work. We are creating resources, partnerships, tools and science-based solutions to help land trusts understand and address the unique water challenges facing their communities.

40 Years of Conservation Success

The Land Trust Alliance, along with the community of land trusts it serves, has grown tremendously over the last 40 years. Together, we have conserved more than 61 million acres. The Alliance is committed to doubling that number by the end of the decade.


Taking the plunge

With the generous support of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, the Alliance recently challenged land trusts to jump into the deep end on water quality, with a new guide Taking the Plunge: Guidance and Inspiration to Help Land Trusts Protect and Restore Water Quality.

The guide provides a starting point for land trusts large and small throughout the United States to work on water. This guide helps land trusts learn about local water quality challenges, design ways to address them and communicate with their supporters and community members about the land-based solutions they can offer.

“Most people think their drinking water is already protected. Just working with our jurisdictions, we’ve found that’s not true. They need our help."
Matt Gerhart, Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (accredited)

Land and Water Initiative

The Land Trust Alliance supports land trusts to protect some of our nation's most important — and most vulnerable — water resources.

Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay region is home to nearly 18 million people, and the way we care for the land will help — or hurt — our waters.

The Chesapeake Bay Land and Water Initiative, a program of the Land Trust Alliance and the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, provides grant support, policy, communications, partnership building and training resources to organizations working to preserve land and protect water quality in the Chesapeake watershed.

Since its first grants in 2017, the Initiative’s grant program has provided more than $813,000 in project support. Thirty-nine grants have been awarded to 28 projects, including efforts to plan, prioritize and implement new land conservation and restoration projects and to strengthen partnerships and collaboration in priority watersheds.

Great Lakes

The Great Lakes basin contains 21 percent of the world's surface fresh water. Land trusts across eight states working in the Great Lakes basin understand that protecting fresh water means protecting the land — through acquisition, proper stewardship, restoration, conservation easements, partnerships, land use policies and cooperative best practices.

The Alliance ’s Great Lakes Land and Water Initiative provides infrastructure, expertise, grants, trainings and other services to make land trusts’ existing efforts to restore and protect water quality more impactful. It’s bringing people and partners together to protect Great Lakes land and freshwater resources for everyone forever.