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Water, Land, Life
WPC enewsletter

January 2010

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Introduces
Colcom Revolving Fund for Local Land Trusts

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s new Colcom Revolving Fund for Local Land Trusts provides short-term access to funds for critical land-conservation purchases. By helping local land trusts quickly raise the necessary funds to acquire key properties, the fund enables them to act before a seller moves on to another interested buyer.

Made possible through grants totaling $1 million from the Colcom Foundation, the new loan fund also allows Conservancy staff members to provide technical assistance to fund participants, as necessary, to help ensure successful project outcomes.

“On average, it takes 18 to 24 months for land trusts to raise the funds necessary to acquire an important property – and during that fundraising period, the window of opportunity to make the purchase may close,” said Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. “This new loan fund increases the capacity of the land trusts in our region to act quickly and effectively when a rare conservation opportunity presents itself. We are very grateful to the Colcom Foundation for the generous gift that enabled the creation of this fund.”

Participating land trusts are required to reimburse the fund, which provides grants in the form of short-term loans. Available to multiple organizations, the fund continually regenerates itself as loans are repaid – providing financing for additional projects. Similar revolving loan funds have been established elsewhere in the United States; however, none to date have focused on supporting Western Pennsylvania’s land trusts.

“Opportunities in natural habitat protection can be fleeting,” said Colcom Foundation Vice-President for Philanthropy John F. Rohe. “The Foundation is privileged to impart an essential element of agility into local land conservation efforts.”

As the fund’s administrator, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy draws on decades of experience in land conservation and a long history of partnering with local land trusts to accomplish shared conservation goals. Since the organization’s founding in 1932, WPC has conserved more than 228,000 acres of natural lands and waterways – nearly half of all land conserved by land trusts in Pennsylvania.

Land trusts represent one of the fastest growing and most successful conservation movements in United States history. During the last five years, total acres conserved by local, state and national land trusts have increased 54% to 37 million acres. With many land trusts still in the early stages of development, assistance from WPC in the form of short-term loans and technical support can help to ensure early successes and continued positive momentum for the land trust movement in Western Pennsylvania.

About Colcom Foundation
Colcom Foundation was established by the late Cordelia S. May, a western Pennsylvania philanthropist who supported regional and national initiatives to improve quality of life. In fulfilling her vision, Colcom Foundation supports local programs that enhance Pittsburgh’s viability and livability. The Foundation participates in local programs to improve parks and trails, expand public gardens and streetscapes, provide access to lifesaving equipment, create and maintain art for public spaces, and sustain local recreational destinations. In addition, Colcom supports environmental programs that address watershed remediation, natural resource preservation, clean air and water, and farmland and wildlife habitat conservation throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. The Foundation has been ranked the 4th largest Pittsburgh-area foundation based on total grant funding. www.colcomfdn.org.

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