TPWD To Host 2004 Texas Land Trust Conference

Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453,

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AUSTIN, Texas – With each passing year, Texans trade in open ranges, grasslands and rivers for strip shopping malls and concrete parking lots. But landowners have other choices for the use of their wide-open spaces, even in a slow economy. The 2004 Statewide Land Trust Conference hopes to offer a few more conservation-friendly options for open lands.

Common Ground, Gaining Ground: Tools for Shaping the Texas Landscape on Feb. 27-28 in Austin will offer participants training for land conservation, networking opportunities and meetings with state and federal agencies. Carolyn Vogel, with the Texas Land Trust Council at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, encourages attorneys, appraisers, private landowners, and those involved in land trusts to attend.

Vogel said when land is passed down through a family, it often is split up through fences or partitions, which can harm the natural movement of wildlife. Sometimes the inherited property is too small to live off of, and parcels are sold off. Development affects water quality and the ecosystem.

“A lot of landowners feel they are backed against a wall,” Vogel said. “The only thing they can do is sell since the land can no longer support them. Texas loses more farmland every year, (about 283 square mile), than any other state in the country.”

Landowners, their advisors and the conservation community will come together at the 2004 conference to learn about the range of assistance available to them. This includes technical and financial assistance programs and potential tax incentives. These tax incentives will be discussed as part of an all-day conservation easement workshop on Friday, Feb 27. Another topic will be a recent study by the American Farmland Trust and Texas A&M University called Texas Rural Lands: Trends and Conservation Implications for the 21st Century. A session and workshop will discuss findings about how and why open land is disappearing and what the future may look like.

Continuing education credits in several fields are pending. Early registration by Feb. 6 is $65 for Texas Land Trust Council members and $85 for non-members. After that date, the fee is $100.

For more information about the conference, contact Susan Harris at (512) 389-4961 or by e-mail at or download a brochure (