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History of the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy
The Southern Oregon Land Conservancy was founded in 1978 when a group of local conservation-minded folks met at the Ashland Public Library. They were concerned about the rapid growth of rural communities in the Rogue Valley and were interested in saving the best places for future generations.
By November of 1978, the group was moving along on their first project: helping The Nature Conservancy buy a section of Lower Table Rock, a local landmark.
In the early years, the Land Conservancy acquired two properties: The Oredson-Todd Woods in Ashland and an acre next to the Rogue River. We also began working with landowners to conserve their land using conservation easements. Volunteers also worked with other groups on fundraising efforts for public open space, like the Bear Creek Greenway.
In 1991, the Land Conservancy joined with the City of Ashland to raise funds for the purchase of the Siskiyou Mountain Preserve, a 271-acre parcel bordering Ashland and the Oredson-Todd Woods. The success of this project led to other public lands projects and the hiring of the Land Conservancy’s first executive director. Throughout the 1990s, the Land Conservancy continued its outreach efforts, increasing the number of conservation easements held and protecting more land within a 5 county region.
In 2000, the Board of Directors drafted a 5 year strategic plan, added more staff, and prepared to move forward as the need for land conservation continued to rise.
Today, the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy holds conservation easements on 52 properties and owns 1 in fee simple title, encompassing over 8,500 acres of land.
Staff consists of a full-time executive director, a part-time office manager, a full-time land steward, a full-time development director and a part-time attorney. A 17-member Lands Advisory Board provides technical assistance on an as-needed basis.
Together, the staff and Board, Trustees, conservation easement partners, members, volunteers, grantors and community partners have created a thriving conservation organization that plays a vital role in preserving the unique and beautiful lands of Southern Oregon.