Nationwide, private land conservation (PLC) is on the rise. Land trusts, local government open space and natural area programs, and revised land use codes, as well as federal and state tax laws, combine to offer an increasing number of incentives and opportunities for landowners to consider. Such programs mitigate the loss of agricultural lands, wildlife habitat, and open space occurring as a result of development pressure. Larimer County, Colorado, has considerable development pressure and a diversity of voluntary and quasi-regulatory programs that stimulate PLC. This study probes the motivations, characteristics, and management practices of the landowners involved, and how these differ according to the mechanisms chosen to conserve private land. We surveyed all County landowners (grantors) who conserved private land using conservation easements, covenants, and cluster developments and interviewed a subset of those landowners. The typical grantor is older, married, well-educated, and likely retired. Five motivational domains were derived from responses to survey items. The natural resource protection domain was assigned the highest importance by participating landowners followed by community- mindedness, family commitments, financial incentives, and sustaining agricultural production. Motivations also differ significantly according to the type of conservation program utilized, geographic location, and the amount of land owned. Half of the respondents were found to be quite to fully engaged in management and monitoring activities. These and other findings may be useful to local governments and other entities engaged in private land conservation wishing to optimize available resources, the approaches, and practices used with different landowners.
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