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San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust
Nonprofit Organization 501(C)(3)
Tax ID # 33-0700417                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

SBMLT in the News

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Land Trust to Ensure Local Forest Preservation

Thursday, May 17, 2001 12:00 am

Story by Frances Stanley

Do you like to hike on mountain trails or take walks in the woods? Do you enjoy driving around looking at the beautiful trees and forest landscapes, rippling creeks, lakes, and in the fall gazing across the hills with the red and gold leaves sprinkled among the pines? If you treasure mountain living then you need to know about the San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust.

A land trust is a non-profit organization that specializes in protecting natural landscapes from development by promoting various means of conservation ownership. The bylaws of the Land Trust specify that all land acquired for preservation remain undeveloped. Land trusts are found in many enlightened communities, where natural surroundings are recognized to be a major asset in the local quality of life, such as in Big Sur or Santa Barbara, famous communities where land trusts have been successful for many years.

Our local Land Trust was instrumental in encouraging Assemblyman Bill Leonard to obtain $2 million for land protection in the San Bernardino mountains. The money is being used to buy 120 acres of the scenic Gregory property in Twin Peaks. Final approval of the deal is expected to take place in Sacramento this week. Another $3 million is scheduled to be allocated for land protection in the San Bernardino National Forest by congress this year.

The SBMLT was established in November 1996, when its federal tax-deductible nonprofit status was awarded by the IRS. Carol Pedder of Rim Forest and Peter Jorris of Arrowbear were the visionaries who realized the need for a land trust in our popular mountains. Jorris first learned about land protection with the Deep Creek Open Space Coalition which successfully protected 300 acres of Deep Creek in Running Springs in 1996. Pedder, a founder of Save Our Forest Association, persuaded that organization to provide the basic start-up help to launch the new land trust. The SBMLT was established specifically to help preserve the valuable forest lands of the San Bernardino Mountains, where urban sprawl has become an increasing threat.

The concept of buying land to conserve natural landscapes has been in practice for more than 100 years but gained major prominence in the 1970's with the success of the Nature Conservancy, the largest of all land trusts. Since then, many communities through-out the U.S. have established their own local conservancies. The SBMLT is a member of the Land Trust Alliance, a nationwide association of 1,200 member land trusts that sets professional standards and provides expert guidance and services to the 1,200 member groups.

The Mountains Land Trust is active from Cedarpines Park to Big Bear. Since it was founded it has acquired three parcels of land of its own; including property in the upper Deep Creek area and Smiley Park. The SBMLT has played a dramatic role in obtaining federal funding that has enabled the Forest Service to buy hundreds of acres of land in the past five years. The Land Trust is currently partnering with other regional land trusts in an effort to increase this funding even more.

Last fall the Land Trust played a key role in finding a conservation buyer for Bluff Lake, a remarkable 120 acre site in Big Bear ensuring this premier showpiece of the forest will remain in its pristine state.

The Land Trust is busy working on a comprehensive inventory of all the large parcels of undeveloped forest land on the mountaintop. The goal is to provide property owners who are interested in selling their land the option of choosing a conservation buyer as a way to keep more of our precious forest protected. Lots of major funding, both federal and local, is needed to make this happen. With the growing help of the community the Land Trust is becoming increasingly effective at tapping into these sources.

For people who truly care about the forest, the Land Trust newsletter is an excellent source of information about the impressive progress in vital land protection. The newsletter is mailed quarterly and all membership donations are tax deductible. Because the Land Trust is a 501-c-3 public benefit organization, in many cases, land donors are able to benefit from significant charitable deductions equivalent to the value of the property. These donations can sometimes be more profitable than an outright sale.

The Land Trust also engages in many related activities such as tree planting, supporting Penny Pines reforestation projects and publishing mountain field guides.

The Wild Flower book, published by the Land Trust is an excellent guide to many of the mountain wildflowers as well and beautifully illustrated by 40 local artists. The guide will be available at the May 25 meeting, or you can order one for $8 by writing to: Wild Flower Guide, P.O. Box 490, Lake Arrowhead, CA 92352. A new field guide is in the making for our beautiful mountain trees.

On May 25 at 7 p.m., the SBMLT will hold a community meeting at the Lake Arrowhead Fire Station 91, near the entrance to the Village. It will be an informational meeting to explain current projects, recruit new supporters and give the community an opportunity to meet the dedicated Land Trust volunteers, as well as the new Project Manager, Kevin Kellems, a talented young biologist hired last fall as the first staff person for the growing organization. A short slide presentation will focus on some of the critical forest areas that the Land Trust is hoping to protect. Refreshments will be served.

The web site for the SBMLT is The mailing address is P.O. Box 490, Lake Arrowhead, CA 92352. For more information, call the Project Manager, Kevin Kellems at 867-3650.