Frequently Asked Questions
About the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust Merger
Please click on one of the questions below to jump directly to an answer.
- “Has this ever been done before? If so, can you provide me with an example of land trusts that merged successfully?“
- “What will happen to the properties already under protection, whether by easement or held in fee?
- “Will stewardship be part of your mission?
- “Can donors restrict their donations to a particular island or project?
- “What will happen with the projects you are currently working on?
- “What’s the difference between the Land Trust(s) and The Nature Conservancy or Trust for Public Land?
- “What happens to existing Staff? Where will they be?
- “Where will the office(s) be?
- “How will the board be structured?
- “How do we know that protection of my island will still be a high priority?
- “Are you a State Agency?
- “Where does your funding come from?
- “How do you choose projects?
- “Will the new organization be accredited?
- “Who do I make the check out to before the new merged organization is in place?
Has this ever been done before? If so, can you provide me with an example of land trusts that merged successfully?
Yes, there are a growing number of examples of successful mergers in land trusts across the country, particularly in the last decade. These range from the joining of small volunteer land trusts to merger of multiple larger land trusts. A notable one of the latter was the formation of the very successful Western Reserve Land Conservancy in 2006 by the merger of 8 northern Ohio land trusts.
Will stewardship be part of your mission?
Yes. In most cases, stewardship will involve monitoring of landowner activities to assure the lands are being managed in accordance with conservation easements held on their property. On lands owned in fee by the land trust, stewardship will include active restoration and management of the conservation values being protected.
Can donors restrict their donations to a particular island or project?
In most instances, we anticipate general operation funds raised for staffing and infrastructure will be applied on a statewide, as-needed basis. However, specific project funding, whether for acquisition or on-the-ground management activities, can be restricted to a particular island or project.
What will happen with the projects you are currently working on?
All projects underway will be continued. Due diligence conducted during the prelude to merger assured that all ongoing projects meet the criteria of national accreditation standards and practices.
What’s the difference between the Land Trust(s) and The Nature Conservancy or Trust for Public Land?
All are nonprofit land conservation organizations and we work collaboratively on many projects, however we all have different mission foci. The Nature Conservancy focuses on native ecosystem protection and management, while the Trust for Public Land generally works as a bridge organization that helps obtain lands which are then transferred to either a public agency or another nonprofit organization for management or accessibility in the public interest. Land trusts generally have a wider range of protection interests in addition, including cultural and agricultural lands, coastal lands for shoreline protection and public access, view-sheds, etc.
What happens to existing Staff? Where will they be?
All current staff will be retained on the islands where they currently work. We project the hiring of additional staff in all counties over the next three years.
How will the board be structured?
There will be a statewide board consisting of members from all counties. In addition, each county will have Island Councils consisting of local residents or stakeholders who will help identify projects, connect with constituents and assist in local events. Merger planning has specified how statewide board members will be recruited from all counties, with no more that 49% of members from any one county or from out-of-state.
How do we know that protection of my island will still be a high priority? (e.g.,how do we keep from getting overwhelmed by too much power on one island, whether it’s Oahu, Maui or wherever?)
The guiding philosophy of the organization throughout the merger planning process is to be a representative statewide entity working to protect the most important conservation lands regardless of the county in which they are located. Having a balanced board with effective representation from all counties will always be a first priority.
Are you a State Agency?
No. Land Trusts are 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits. However, we work closely in partnerships with federal, state and local agencies, as well as private landowners and other nonprofits.
Where does your funding come from?
We rely on a diverse funding plan that includes private donations, foundation and agency grants, fundraising/friendraising events and fee-for service. Our goal is to increase individual donor funding to 75% of annual operating costs over the next five years.
How do you choose projects?
Project selection criteria which meet IRS requirements and conform to National Land Trust Alliance standards and practices are utilized during the evaluation of all potential projects. In some instances, landowners will approach the organization with an interest in placing their lands under protection, however we also proactively seek out lands of particularly important conservation values and approach the landowners with protection options. The input of the Island Councils is particularly important in selecting projects.