I am Jacquelyn Wallace, conservation director for the Okanogan Land Trust, and I work to conserve our region’s land and water resources in a way that benefits human communities and economies. I’m passionate about conservation that works for people and nature and makes good business sense. I want the Okanogan to thrive, and I believe that smart land conservation now will create and sustain healthy local economies and communities far into the future.

Here are five things you should know about the Okanogan Land Trust:

1. Our Mission: As an organization, we take our mission statement seriously: “From the Cascades to the Kettles, and from Canada to the Columbia, the Okanogan Land Trust is a local nonprofit organization connecting people to the land and conserving and sustaining our working farms and ranches, wildlife habitats and water resources for generations to come.” We work to carry out this mission in partnership with private landowners and communities in Okanogan and Ferry counties.

2.What We Do: Like our mission statement says, we conserve land and we connect people to the land. We work with private landowners interested in conserving their land for future generations. Conservation easements are the primary tool we use to help landowners protect what they value most about their property. We also host community events, educational workshops, and guided outings.

3. Conservation Easements: Conservation easements are not as complicated and mysterious as you may think. Conservation easements are legal agreements between a landowner and a conservation organization. When a landowner signs a conservation easement, they typically agree to give up certain rights, such as the ability to build a condominium complex, while keeping other rights, like the ability to build a home and continue farming and ranching.

4.Conservation is an investment in the Okanogan’s economy: We have seen firsthand how conservation easements can help ranchers stay in business and reinvest in their operations and the local economy. When farming and ranching operations stay in business, local jobs are created and food is produced close to home. Conservation easements keep land on the public tax rolls, and privately held conservation lands contribute more money to the local tax base than residential development in rural areas far outside town centers.

5.We believe in conservation that protects the “best of the best”: Our goal is to conserve the most special places in our region. We believe that some lands should become neighborhoods, shopping centers and workplaces, while the most important farms, ranches, waterways and wildlife habitats should be protected for future generations. By conserving the best of the best, our children and grandchildren will inherit these most special places that make our region so spectacular and extraordinary.