SANTA FE CONSERVATION TRUST

Saving Land. For Everyone. Forever.

aka SFCT   |   Santa Fe, NM   |  www.sfct.org

Mission

The Santa Fe Conservation Trust partners with our community to keep northern New Mexico’s living lands and people flourishing together. We protect culturally and environmentally significant landscapes, ignite people’s passion for nature and enable the continual regeneration of our healthy place. Vision Statement We envision a future where everyone in northern New Mexico cherishes nature and works to preserve it for this and future generations.

Notes from the nonprofit

For the past several years, SFCT has been working on a Strategic Conservation Plan (SCP) that will guide the organization for the next ten years in its conservation work. SFCT’s SCP proposes focusing on areas with high conservation values where many of our existing conservation easements are clustered and working with surrounding landowners to create larger, "landscape" sized conservation areas. Larger areas of conserved land will make our community and surrounding areas more resilient to the threats of climate change. More significant connected areas of conserved land will also protect and expand migration corridors, create buffer zones in areas of high development, tie water rights to the land, offer more opportunities to expand and create trails for public access, and expand/connect SFCT’s patchwork of existing protected areas, providing greater conservation benefits to the public.

Ruling year info

1994

Executive Director

Sarah Noss

Main address

PO Box 23985

Santa Fe, NM 87502 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

85-0418988

NTEE code info

Land Resources Conservation (C34)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2019, 2018 and 2017.
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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

SFCT proposes focusing on areas with high conservation values where many of our existing conservation easements are clustered and working with surrounding landowners to create larger, “landscape” sized conservation areas. Larger areas of conserved land will make our community and surrounding areas more resilient to the threats of climate change. The forests and grasslands serve as a “carbon sink,” pulling CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Ground cover and shade reduce temperatures. Vegetation slows and reduces runoff and erosion so rain can sink in to replenish our aquifers and reduce the flow of pollutants into rivers. Open lands protect biodiversity and wildlife, all so important since we depend on plants and animals to feed us, help pollinate our crops, and improve our enjoyment of nature.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Land Conservation

SFCT works to identify and protect the most important and threatened lands using all the tools of private, voluntary land conservation by working with willing landowners to find ways to protect the conservation values of the land
forever. SFCT uses a variety of land protection methods to achieve its conservation goals, including conservation easements and fee donations and acquisitions, land exchanges and management agreements. SFCT uses evaluation and selection criteria to assess the status of conservation values, the threats to these values and the potential for their successful conservation on each of the properties it works to protect.

Public Outreach – SFCT increases awareness about the benefits of private land conservation and the mission of SFCT. SFCT dedicates considerable time and effort to serving as an information resource, conducting outreach and engaging in relevant policy and legislative initiatives. SFCT’s outreach efforts target landowners, their advisors, community groups, conservation organizations and public agencies.

Land Stewardship – SFCT provides stewardship for all of its land and easement holdings through baseline assessment, management planning, monitoring, and legal defense. Annual monitoring is completed to ensure landowner compliance with the terms of the easements and that the conservation values are being adequately protected. Stewardship gifts and fees are accepted into a stewardship fund as lands and easements are conserved. This fund is managed separately from SFCT’s operating funds and is used to provide for future annual monitoring expenses as well as the future potential costs of restoration, and the legal defense of its land and easement holdings.

Population(s) Served
Adults

SFCT has been involved in the creation of the Dale Ball Trails, Atalaya Trail, Santa Fe Rail Trail, the Spur Trail, La Tierra Trails, La Piedra Trail and, along with the Commonweal Conservancy, the Galisteo Basin Preserve Trails. SFCT Trails Program works in partnership with the City of Santa Fe, SFCT’s volunteer group, The Trails Alliance of Santa Fe, and other entities, to coordinate trail development and construction, organize volunteer trail work, identify and prioritize trail linkages, promote the trails, and provide the public with trail information and access through educational programs and events. SFCT is also leading a partnership of many entities in providing coordination, planning, mapping and implementation support for the Grand Unified Santa Fe Trail Organization (GUSTO). SFCT is in charge of convening partners, researching and mapping existing trails, identifying gaps and opportunities for new trails, and prioritizing and implementing the trail connections that are identified in the planning process. The vision of the GUSTO initiative is an interconnected system of natural-surface trails that allows non-motorized users to travel in a loop around the greater Santa Fe area, as well as between the city center and the periphery. The GUSTO Initiative has brought together many community partners who aim to have a unified, sustainable trail system around the entire metropolitan area.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Because conservation easements are permanent and run
with the land, SFCT must monitor and enforce its conservation easements forever. This duty of perpetual care presents unique challenges to land trusts everywhere. SFCT is working to strengthen the organization through the implementation of “community conservation.” Community conservation programs help SFCT broaden and diversify its constituency, introduce more citizens to the local trails, let them experience nature's health-giving qualities, and improve their health by getting them outside and moving. SFCT programs are designed to give everyone outdoor experiences that will help them become passionate defenders of nature and of
conservation. SFCT’s legacy of trails work is the natural way to implement community conservation programs. As such, SFCT offers programs to ensure equitable access to nature and Santa Fe’s trail resources. Since 2014, SFCT has introduced 2,000 south side kids and their families to Santa Fe’s trail system (Passport to Trails). In 2018, SFCT started an in-town walking program (Vámonos: Santa Fe Walks) for those whose access to nature is more challenging: the elderly, infirm, transportation limited, immigrant community, or those afraid to walk alone.
By working to ignite a passion for nature in everyone and give them access to the foothill trails and urban trails, SFCT works to improve public health, build community on the trails and create the next generation of conservationists while promoting access to the life-enhancing qualities of the outdoors.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Seniors

Where we work

Accreditations

Land Trust Alliance 2014

Awards

Pinon Award 2004

Santa Fe Community Foundation

Mayor's Sustainability Award - Transportation 2017

CIty of Santa Fe

Mayor's Sustainability Award - Environment 2018

City of Santa Fe

Best Environmental Non-Profit 2020

Santa Fe Reporter

Affiliations & memberships

Land Trust Alliance 2001

Acres of land leased, purchased, or put into easement

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Land Conservation

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of students educated through field trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People of Latin American descent, Economically disadvantaged people, Preteens

Related Program

Trails

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

In 2020, we were forced to discontinue field trips with students. We hope to be able to start up again later in 2021.

Number of acres of land protected

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Land Conservation

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of community events or trainings held and attendance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Trails

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

In 2020, our trail workdays and other activities with volunteers were limited to virtual meetings and groups of 5 or fewer in-person.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SFCT will preserve the natural and cultural landscapes that make the greater Santa Fe community a distinctly special place.

1) Conservation Planning: Define the bigger picture by setting conservation priorities and creating analysis maps with the assistance of GIS (geographical information system) program. Use this analysis along with research and partnerships with related organizations in order to proactively seek easements and conservation projects. The conservation map/plan defines our conservation vision for the Santa Fe area-guides SFCT conservation priorities and advocacy, and engages the community in conservation

2) Stewardship and Monitoring: 100% of SFCT easements are to be monitored every year. Existing conservation easements to be compliant and documented with all applicable laws and standards, in order to make the strongest and legally defensible easements.

3) LTA Accreditation: Achieve accreditation with the Land Trust Alliance, the over-arching national organization of land trusts. Accreditation will be accomplished in 2013 (we are currently in the process of accreditation).

4) Trail Advocacy: Promote the use of trails through outreach and education. Investigate the need for trails and public access in new and existing areas, in order to create a comprehensive trail network in the greater Santa Fe area. Be identified by trail users as THE local trail advocate.

5) Funding and Capacity: Understand and manage our capacity, strive to have the optimal employees for fulfilling our mission programs, administrative and developmental needs. Build an adequate, diverse and stable funding base in order to support the capacity (human, technological, financial) to achieve goals.

1) Conservation Planning: By utilizing ArcGIS software, we will construct a parcel map of each of our focal areas. With a set of conservation values, each parcel will be given a priority, depending on how many conservation values it contains. The parcels that contain the largest number of conservation values are given the highest priority, which can be used to indicate possible conservation projects and easements. Other considerations, such as high development/highly threatened areas, relationships with landowners, and other political or environmental issues will also be brought to the table and taken into account.
2) Stewardship and Monitoring: The monitoring effort is spear-headed by the conservation & stewardship coordinator, who also performs updates to baseline documentation for each easement. Other staff, board, and volunteers may perform the regular monitoring visits, by vehicle, on foot, or aerially, taking particular note of features and values of each easement as delineated in the baseline report, and reporting/documenting any concerns that may arise. Monitoring activities will take place every year for every easement.
3) LTA Accreditation: Having already passed through the pre-application process, our current goal is the main accreditation process itself. All staff and available board members are assisting in the gathering of policies, project documentation and other materials required by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. Also, in order to assist in the process, we have hired a consultant who has taken another land trust through the entire process successfully, in order to oversee and guide our efforts.
4) Trail Advocacy: Trail advocacy is a multifaceted issue, and thus the strategy for accomplishing is also multifaceted. Outreach and development events are conducted on a regular basis, including on National Trails Day, the local showing of the Banff Film Festival, and in guided hikes and tours, which normally occur in the Galisteo Basin, one of our focal areas. On the trail development side, we participate in local planning and implementation of new and existing trails, including the actual management of construction and implementation of new trails. Maintenance and support of existing trails is conducted by our all-volunteer trail arm, the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe.
5) Funding and Capacity: by cultivating an operating reserve, endowment accounts and funds for the support and defense of our easements, while maintaining a balanced yearly budget, SFCT intends to remain a very stable organization that will stand the test of time, especially under the consideration that our easements are permanent documents that must be upheld in perpetuity. Staff will be maintained that is capable of fulfilling our legal and fiduciary duties on a yearly basis, while allowing for growth and development of the organization and our portfolio of easements and properties.

SFCT currently has $600,000 annual operating budget, reviewed and approved by its board of directors and maintains an operating reserve that could sustain the organization for at least a year, given no other income. We hold 89 conservation easements, representing approximately $60,000,000 of property value and development rights. SFCT has a commendable history of collecting stewardship funds for its conservation easements and has both an endowment and a dedicated fund established for stewardship and legal defense. The land trust currently has sufficient funds as set forth by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

The land trust currently has 6 full time staff members and has over 200 volunteers assisting it with its work. Our professional staff includes an Executive Director, Land Program Manager, Trails Program Manager, Operations Manager, Events, Volunteer & Development Coordinator and an Executive Assistant. SFCT's personnel capacity has changed little since 1993 yet the land trust has added significantly to its conservation easement portfolio, trail development efforts and other community work. Furthermore, SFCT's conservation easement stewardship obligations are growing. Approximately 1/3 of SFCT's 89 easement-protected properties are owned by successor generation landowners and studies have consistently shown these are the landowners most likely to violate their conservation easements. Easement stewardship consists of far more than simply annual easement monitoring – it also includes building landowner relations, answering landowner questions, recordkeeping, addressing easement amendments and resolving easement violations.

SFCT maintains a broad network of connections that assist in the accomplishment of its goals: a donor base that has been cultivated over the last 25 years; related and synergistic non-profits and government conservation programs; and landowners in and around our focal areas.

In 2018, we added six conservation easements to our portfolio, monitored 100% of our existing properties, finished construction on a new trail connection, hosted our 2000th child on the trails through our Passport to Trails Program, and launch our Vamonos: Santa Fe Walks program, modelled off of the national "Walk with a Doc" initiative. We hope to continue these trends in the current year and beyond. Every year we have the goal of achieving 100% monitoring of our existing easements. Though new easements are actively sought out every year, we must also reign ourselves in so that we do not exceed our capacity to monitor these new easements in the future. Trails will be built when interest and opportunity (and funding!) converge. So we will continue in making these small steps towards our vision of conservation, while fulfilling our annual obligations balanced with our abilities and capacity.

More significant connected areas of conserved land will also protect and expand migration corridors, create buffer zones in areas of high development, tie water rights to the land, offer more opportunities to expand and create trails for public access, and expand/connect SFCT’s patchwork of existing protected areas, providing greater conservation benefits to the public.

The proposed Strategic Conservation Plan is ambitious, because landscape-sized areas of conserved land means SFCT will need to expand its business model to include buying all or some of a landowner’s development rights, helping landowners cover the cost of CEs, and, if need be, purchasing lands of high conservation value. In order to provide for equity, diversity and inclusion in our conservation work, we will have to raise considerable funds to work with a wider diversity of landowners. SFCT’s Strategic Conservation Plan will help landowners across the economic spectrum to protect and retain their lands in high priority conservation areas. There are two final steps we need to finish before we can move forward: first, in early 2020, we will present the plan to our stakeholders and the public, so we can better craft this plan to fit the needs of the community and the region. After the public comment phase, we will leverage the plan to generate significant income to allow SFCT to work with a broader variety of landowners to create larger conservation areas.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Community Conservation programs introduce more citizens to the local trails, let them experience nature's health-giving qualities, and improve their health by getting them outside and moving. SFCT offers programs to ensure equitable access to nature and Santa Fe’s trail resources. Since 2014, SFCT has introduced 3,000 south side kids and their families to Santa Fe’s trail system (Passport to Trails). In 2018, SFCT started an in-town walking program (Vámonos: Santa Fe Walks) for those whose access to nature is more challenging: the elderly, infirm, transportation limited, immigrant community, or those afraid to walk alone.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Community meetings/Town halls,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    In 2020, we re-prioritized our trail construction and maintenance focus based on community feedback, as well as creating virtual walks and maps so that community members would still be engaged, and compiled pictures and stories from the community on social media.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    We have begun offering online chats with pertinent information about conservation issues, with a live Q&A session. These have served to inform us on related issues and other pertinent topics that have led to the creation of future chats. Based on feedback and community members voicing concerns, we recently had a chat regarding the implementation of new streetlights in the City of Santa Fe, and the pros and cons of different implementations as the concerned safety and visibility versus conservation of the character of the city and the preservation of the dark night skies and effects on human and wildlife health. We hope to use information gathered in this chat to help inform the city governance make responsible, sustainable and enjoyable decisions.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

SANTA FE CONSERVATION TRUST
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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SANTA FE CONSERVATION TRUST

Board of directors
as of 5/7/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

George Strickland

Santa Fe Conservation Trust

Term: 2014 - 2022

Sandra Massengil

Santa Fe Conservation Trust

George Strickland

Santa Fe Conservation Trust

Nancy Cook

Santa Fe Conservation Trust

David Fleischaker

Santa Fe Conservation Trust

Brant Goodman

Santa Fe Conservation Trust

Clayton Jernigan

Santa Fe Conservation Trust

Albert Reed

Santa Fe Conservation Trust

Michael Avery

Santa Fe Conservation Trust

Marianne Dwight

Peter Martin

Julie Martinez

Carmela Nino

Ginny Olcott

Dennis Romero

Quinn Simons

Justin Svetnicka

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 05/07/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/07/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.