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Email:   i  nfo@sbmlt.net                                                                                                           San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust                                                                              501(3)(C) non-profit organization                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Tax ID# 33-0700417                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

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Land Trust Endeavors to Preserve Mountain Landscape

Thursday, January 31, 2002 12:00 am

The San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the forest in the San Bernardino Mountains, had its inception in 1995 as an offshoot of the Deep Creek Open Space Coalition. The Deep Creek Open Space Coalition, formed by a group of residents in Running Springs, was successful in securing the preservation of 300 acres of private land and 1.5 miles of Deep Creek which were in danger of being developed. The success of the coalition inspired some members to form the land trust. Ever since, it has been operating to preserve local forest land which contains more interior development than any other forest in the nation. Land trusts, common in areas where the natural landscape defines the community, consider the forest an asset to be preserved, rather than a commodity to be developed.

Among other sources, the San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust, utilizes monies from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal account set aside for the purchase of privately owned land within the boundaries of National Forest. Since the trust's formation, it has had a hand in preserving over 1,000 acres of forested land. This land includes 120 acres of wildlife habitat in the Twin Peaks area known as the Gregory Property which was owned by longtime mountain resident Bill Gregory. According to land trust project manager Kevin Kellems, there are still 45,000 acres of forested land in private ownership in local national forests.

According to the land trust web site, the trust's primary function is in, "consolidating National Forest public lands by helping the Forest Service to acquire private inholdings (the missing pieces of the forest)." However, the trust also has a stewardship program in which they will manage land in their ownership.

The land trust is currently working to implement a fund-raising campaign entitled "Save the Saints." The campaign will address the needs of Southern California mountain ranges sharing names with the Spanish Saints--San Bernardino, San Gabriel, Santa Ana and San Jacinto. The trust recently presented the campaign to a symposium of forest specialists from San Diego to Santa Barbara and a gathering of Southern California Land Trusts.

The goal of the campaign is to work with national conservation organizations including the Pacific Crest Trail Organization, The Trust for Public Land, the Audubon Society and local land trusts protecting neighboring mountain ranges. The Save the Saints Campaign recognizes Southern California as home to some of the most widely accessed recreational public lands serving the largest and most diverse group of people. Despite this use, Southern California has received the least amount of conservation funding state-wide.

In working with these organizations, Save the Saints hopes to inform, educate and gain the attention of key decision makers who can aid in obtaining conservation funds and provide for local forests and mountains accordingly.

Kellems says the support of the community is imperative for the land trust to secure funds--espeically from the state, because if state representatives see the community is in favor of the land trust, they are more likely to give the trust funds.

For more information on the San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust visit their web site at www.sbmlt.org.   http://www.mountain-news.com/article_ea5d807d-d92d-59ba-9138-e786e86ec6a2.html