About Land Trusts
Jayne Cronlund
Tales of Two Trusts
Thoughts on Trusts
Jayne Cronlund, Three Rivers Land Trust
Jayne Cronlund is the executive director of the Three Rivers Land Conservancy, based in Portland, Oregon. During the filming of the Land Trust program, Jayne talked about why she decided to work with a land trust (instead of pursuing a higher-paying legal career) and she spoke of her personal feelings about conservation. She also discussed the role of Portland as a model for land use in other Oregon communities, and in closing, she considered the future of the city's landscape.
"Although my law school was in Boston, I realized the Northwest was really a place I enjoyed. I really felt at home pretty much as soon as I stepped off the plane. I realized that this was a place that spoke to me. I did some volunteer work with a land trust in Bellingham, Washington, and I realized that this was my calling.
"The land trust community is very grassroots oriented, very citizen involved, and really passionate about preserving land at a very local scale.
"Three Rivers Land Conservancy realizes that we're in the Portland metropolitan area, and there is a lot of growth planned for this region. This is an urban center for all of Oregon. It's doing a job for Oregon. So we don't see ourselves as stopping growth in this area. But we do see ourselves directing growth, identifying important resources, preserving important heritage, and preserving natural resources, pathways and open space for future generations.
"We can do [those things] after we grow, after we expand, which is the case inside our urban growth boundary where we are playing a game of catch-up. But if we do it outside the urban growth boundary, or just outside of it, then we're looking towards the future. Then we're taking a step in a direction that's really going to provide a livable Portland for generations to come.
"Development is not just in the hands of developers. It is within each of our landowners, who have the ability to say, 'This is how I'd like to see the future of my community, and this is what I'd like to do, and I'd like to preserve a piece of that for future generations.'
"There have been many, many challenges. Working with a citizen-based organization, communicating, getting a vision, working together, creating a consensus approach to land conservation. There is so much to do with a mission like preserving land in metropolitan Portland. It's overwhelming. 'What does that mean?' 'How do you do that?' 'What can we do?' Those have been satisfying questions for us to answer. We are on an exciting path.
"We have a vision of what it is we'd like to protect, and we're working slowly and gradually to obtain those objectives. I work on a day-to-day basis with a board of directors, volunteers and citizens to empower and work with other citizens to preserve land, which means working in designated focus areas that the conservancy has identified in metropolitan Portland.
"When you look at the whole landscape and see it radically change, it can be challenging to find sustenance in knowing that this 2-acre parcel, or that 5-acre parcel, is now protected. However, that is how change occurs -- one piece at a time. It's one landowner at a time. I see a lot of hope in encouraging and empowering landowners and individuals to protect their land, and providing them with stewardship resources -- really empowering citizens to envision a future where they can make a difference.
"When I think about it, and I am walking the land with a landowner, I think 'Wow, we are trying to figure out what's going to happen on this land in perpetuity - forever.' And we've got to think of pretty much everything. When we start writing that conservation easement, we're thinking in terms of 'what is the future going to hold?'
"The metropolitan Portland area is not, perhaps, some of the most pristine habitat here in Oregon, but it is the lifeblood of Oregon, at least in an economic sense. People who live here need to retain their connection with the land. Yet over and over in Eastern cities, where I come from, people have lost their connection with nature - with natural areas. People here have an incredible opportunity to retain those links, and for people to be in touch with nature. As soon as we lose that connection, we won't know why it's important to have wild areas in the 'great beyond' of Oregon. We won't know why biodiversity is important, without that education - that 'natural area' education - happening on a daily basis.
"I think Portland has an opportunity. We have a lot of those resources still. We need not to lose those resources, and we need to provide connections to nature, for kids and adults, in their home environment.
"I think if I looked out 200 years from now, I don't know that I have a specific number of acres that I would target in terms of preservation. But what I do have is a vision of a community where important natural resources are protected. People have a connection to those.
"I have a vision of a community that incorporates natural and cultural heritage into its very core, and its foundation, and gets out ahead of the development and makes that a reality. Then people can feel connected to their past, and they can feel connected to their natural resource heritage as well."