Our Mission and History
The mission of the Orange County Land Trust is to preserve the fields, forests, wetlands, ridgelines and river corridors in and around Orange County for the benefit of people.
Orange County Land Trust was formed in 1993 by a group of conservation minded visionaries led by Louis V. Mills, OCLT’s founder and Orange County’s first county executive. From the beginning, the group had a clear set of goals: to protect and preserve scenic and environmentally sensitive areas of the county for future generations before they became lost to anticipated growth and development.
Today, as more people recognize the value in preserving open space, the Orange County Land Trust has become the voice of, and a catalyst for, voluntary conservation of land in the county. The Land Trust strives to protect the natural and agricultural heritage of the county, working with farmers and other landowners who wish to keep their land untouched by future development. The organization identifies critical areas in need of protection and partners with individuals, organizations, businesses and government agencies to protect these areas. As Orange County has experienced rapid growth in the past decades, the land trust has worked diligently so that the county remains a region of varied and beautiful landscapes that give it its distinctive sense of place. The land trust believes preserving land and scenic byways enhances the quality of life for all residents, ensuring that the county remains an attractive place to live and work.
Orange County Land Trust is managed by a professional staff of four, a volunteer board of directors and volunteer land stewards that monitor the trust’s twelve public nature preserves and almost 30 properties with conservation agreements.
Since its inception, Orange County Land Trust has helped protect nearly 4,700 acres of land through the negotiation of conservation agreements with private land owners, property donations, and the acquisition of private property. The acreage is comprised of unique meadows, fertile farmlands, stream corridors, wetlands, forests and recreational acres. Many of the properties are open to the public, while others remain private properties with agreements that preclude future development. Of the properties and preserves open to the public, the land trust organizes frequent hiking and birding activities and has partnered with children and youth organizations in providing educational, conservation-based nature programs.
OCLT is helping preserve these landscapes with generous support from individual donors, as well as corporate, government and foundation sponsors.