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Working Lands Project

Pinchot focus areas:

Climate & Energy
Water
Forests
Communities
Policy
Working Lands Project
Introduction
The Working Lands Project is working to build solutions for families struggling with of intergenerational transitions on working lands. Led by the Pinchot Institute with support from a diverse group of partners, the project is evaluating and testing innovative ownership and land management models that function to conserving working forests, farms, and ranches. 

The Challenge of Conserving Working Lands
Millions of acres owned by family foresters, farmers, and ranchers will transition from one generation to the next over the coming years. These lands are the backbone of conservation in the United States, and retaining their conservation value is a central challenge for our generation. Family owned lands provide income primarily from active farming or timber harvest. Small owners are significantly disadvantaged with sporadic cash flows, high risks, and challenging tax situations. When family lands are sold, the risk of fragmentation and conversion is increased, jeopardizing economic, social, and environmental benefits that could have otherwise continued. 

Testing Conservation Solutions
Our work is evaluating place-based farm, ranch, and forest investment vehicles that create measurable conservation and community benefits by retaining the best elements of family ownership while confronting the largest challenges of private ownership: management, inheritance planning, and uneven cash flow. Currently in a feasibility and startup phase, the project is conducting interview-based research of private landowners across the country to assess their level of interest in and expectations for alternative ownership structures, such as landowner cooperatives, leasing arrangements, and professional management models. The project is also assessing models whereby landowners seeking to gift their lands to institutions, such as community foundations or universities, can ensure that these lands will be managed sustainably for generations to come.      

Project Director: Benjamin Hayes
Grey Towers National Historic Site Support Our Work Best in America