A Brief History of the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands
Since its beginning in 1972 the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands, private nonprofit and nongovernmental, has worked to protect outdoor resources. The foundation has handled more than $12,000,000 in assets and our administrative budget has never been more than one percent of our asset base. Our charter maintains flexibility because Idaho is so diverse. The opportunity for land conservation is entirely voluntary and we only go where we are wanted. There is no maternity ward for terra firma. Two of Idaho’s staunchest park supporters – Governor Robert and Lu Smylie helped in the early development of the land trust in Idaho. Both knew the Harriman brothers well, dined with them at the Railroad Ranch in Island Park, on their private railway car and sometimes in New York. Working with E. Roland and Gladys Harriman, who owned 75 percent of the ranch and W. Averell Harriman with his 25 percent, Governor Smylie wrote the agreements that would preserve all 15,000 acres as a gift to the people of Idaho. The Foundation played a critical part in this, its first transaction. What a legacy for this state! The Foundation will always take a multi-faceted approach to support local land protection for areas left in their natural state…managed as agriculture land… improved by adding bike paths…developed for parks and recreation… and the list goes on.
A public benefit privately-funded organization can provide for safekeeping of land assets as part of land preservation. These properties, as they are acquired, may be held and then either conveyed to a public agency or stay in protective status and management permanently with the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands. This has been the concept and founding principle of the foundation (formerly Idaho Park Foundation) when it was chartered in 1972 during the first administration of Governor Cecil D. Andrus. The reason it is called a “foundation” is that it can make “grants” of land to public agencies.
The Foundation’s goals are promote the acquisition, preservation, conservation and maintenance of open spaces and related ecosystems. It is organized to cooperate with community groups and governmental units within the state. The Foundation has been fortunate, in building its track record, to acquire most of its holdings by donation rather than purchase. A key element in the process is public and private trust and confidence. Importantly, each property must be held and cared for according to the wishes and conditions of donors.
People generally donate for preservation, not for financial benefit. Often potential donors prefer to deal with a private organization rather than a public agency. A perpetual conservation easement means the property will never be subdivided and developed. Easement contributors receive a tax break based on the appraised difference between the property’s value as agriculture acreage and its subdivision value. Landowners retain all other rights of ownership.
Idaho Foundation for Parks & Lands
The Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands is a statewide public benefit privately-funded organization whose mission is to preserve and protect open space lands and unique natural, scenic settings for public benefit through various flexible conservation methods.
Assist in setting aside quality lands for future generations including acquisition and management of Idaho properties for public use and/or wildlife benefit.
- Make our mission and the advantages of donating land known to people with quality lands to donate. Stress IFP&L’s record of success.
- Maintain appropriate contact with previous donors and consult them on uses of the properties so that word-of-mouth is favorable.
- Make local governments aware of our mission and the fact that we are available to them and extremely flexible.
- Prepare formal, but simple, description of benefits to donors of easements and other gifts for handout purposes.
- Develop a Conservation Master plan to include an inventory of important lands and their relative priority for protection. *This is our board “pro-active” work. **This might be desirable statewide; e.g., land in the northern part of the state.
- Develop a general property management program, including the development of management plans and basic objectives for all Foundation properties within three months of acquisition. This program would include needs for current properties along with budget estimates to meet the needs.
- On Foundation flagship properties develop a Master Plan within two years of acquisition which allows for both short-term and long-term objectives.
- Add to the “Trust in Idaho” Endowment Fund to guarantee permanent protection and ongoing maintenance of Foundation properties.
- Place proper signage on appropriate properties, with basic information on IFP&L and ways to contact us. Promote cooperation and partnerships among organizations with similar goals and objectives. While there is competition in fund raising, the ultimate goals are more important, long range. As a lead organization, IFP&L can help to create synergy among similar organizations, helping many of them to achieve their specific goals more readily. To accomplish this, IFP&L must make itself desirable as a partner.
- Generate a list of organizations and their leaders operating in Idaho with similar goals; determine specific strengths of each and begin an outreach process to them.
- Present our mission to those organizations in the most effective ways possible. Set up a series of meetings among some IFP&L board members and leaders of the other organizations.
- Based upon the meetings, categorize the organizations on their strengths and weaknesses related to IFP&L’s own goals and those of the other organizations. Target those which align themselves most effectively with our own goals.
- Develop a basic plan for working with the targeted groups. Consider what IFP&L’s value to each could be, and ways in which we could help the sister organization and how it could help us.
- Set up some follow-up meetings with the targeted organizations, to determine their willingness to work with us, and develop mutual strategies.
- Volunteer one or more Directors to work with Executive Director and the Executive Committee to follow up on above five goals. Educate the public on the value of open space and lands for public benefit and upon the value of IFP&L as a lead organization promoting such land preservation. Promote IFP&L as an organization for information about land donations and benefits to the public and to the taxpayer.
- Build a library of publications dealing with land preservation and protection and let other organizations know it’s available to them.
- Develop a brochure that highlights our flexibility and demonstrates some of the ways we’ve acted creatively to solve specific problems (e.g., Barber Pool bike path, Henry’s Fork grazing plan and fencing to protect fish).
- Provide tours of Barber Pool and other local IFP&L properties (and have board members in other areas do the same) to high school groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc.
- Select departments of Idaho government: DEQ, F&G, Water Resources, etc. and invite each one to designate five or six people for a tour of local properties. Arm them with brochures and school them in benefits to the state.
- Develop presentation packages to serve as the basis for talks to service clubs, chambers of commerce, charitable organizations and foundations (e.g., Steele- Reese, Daugherty, Packard, CHC, etc.).
- Do five (for each board member) presentations about the Foundation to community groups. Develop our own video and/or slide presentation.
- Consider story board development for use at different events.
- Ask each board member to make two to three media contacts annually.
- Ask to be on the agenda for Association of Idaho Cities and Idaho Association of Counties meetings and other statewide associations or organizations to discuss our program.
- Format an Annual Report for distribution upon request.
- Maintain a web page that covers the entirety of IFP&L. Educate the board members on the value of open space and lands for public use and/or wildlife benefit and the methods for land preservation.
- Develop an education program for IFP&L board members on acquisition strategies, on previously successful efforts of IFP&L, and on the techniques for acquisition and asking for donations of land and money.
- Utilize the committees of IFP&L more fully so that all board members can become acquainted with the work of the committees they have volunteered to serve upon, especially providing opportunities for board members to participate in acquisitions and negotiations concerning the management of properties held by the Foundation.
- Expand board meetings to two days to support education and utilization of board members’ time.
- Hold an annual board training and planning retreat with a professional facilitator. *Invite others such as Jim Hall, director, Boise Parks and Recreation.
Develop augmented funding sources for continued self-supporting mechanisms.
- Develop and approve an annual budget.
- Apply for an Organizational Development grant through LTA/Northwest.
- Make ten corporate grant contacts.
- Add 15 new donor “Friends” in the next 12 months.
- Increase giving by Board members. Develop personnel and facilities adequate to meet the program goals of the Foundation.
- Develop written responsibility for standing committees.
- Include the Advisory Board in mailings, ongoing activities and special invitations of Advisory Board members to Board meetings and other functions.
- Consider the needs and opportunities and funding for future staffing.