A guest blog by the Iowa Environmental Council: Meet our Members: Bur Oak Land Trust
Welcome to the fifth entry of Meet Our Members, our series that introduces readers to our member organizations, and shares information about how they are creating a safer, healthier, and more sustainable Iowa. Today, we’re pleased to feature the Bur Oak Land Trust.
The history of the Bur Oak Land Trust goes back to 1978. This vibrant organization was established after a lost opportunity to purchase a piece of property as an extension to Hickory Hill Park on Iowa City’s north side. The land was sold instead to a developer, to the dismay of many residents. The sale of this beautiful property made apparent the need for a land trust in the Iowa City area, and was the impetus for establishing the Bur Oak Land Trust. In fact, Bur Oak Land Trust is one of only five land trusts in Iowa.
The land Bur Oak Land Trust conserves is located in Johnson County and the surrounding counties. Properties which meet their criteria as valuable natural areas can be donated, purchased by bargain sale, regular sale, or as a conservation easement, which is a legal binding agreement between the landowner and Bur Oak Land Trust. Bur Oak Land Trust also assists and advises landowners in selling, conserving, or transferring their lands to public property. Once under Bur Oak Land Trust’s stewardship, property is forever protected from development and their natural ecosystems preserved for wildlife habitat, recreation, and a healthy environment.
Bur Oak Land Trust seeks to protect properties such as native prairie, reconstructed prairie, and woodlands. Bur Oak Land Trust now owns nine properties totaling over 300 acres, and 14 easements in which they hold on privately owned land.
“The point is to keep properties as close to their natural state as possible,” said Executive Director Tammy Wright.
To care for the land after acquisition, Bur Oak Land Trust hosts workdays; volunteers weed out invasive species and see to it that the land is being used respectfully. Under conservation easement contracts, the land is still in the owner’s possession, but is monitored by the land trust.
Bur Oak Land Trust is a growing organization and has many ways to get involved. Volunteering to do office work or work outdoors on the properties, help set up and run events, and monetary donations are all ways to contribute to this impactful organization.
As a member organization of the Council, Bur Oak Land Trust is able to grow awareness about the work it is doing, and is given a stronger voice in lobbying and legislation.