Accomplishing Our Mission

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People often ask the Back Country Land Trust questions about how we operate. The Back Country Land Trust (BCLT)'s mission is to preserve rural, scenic, biological, cultural, and agricultural lands in eastern San Diego County for future generations. Like most land trusts, we're a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation authorized by the IRS and the State to accept donations and offer tax deductions to donors. We've served our community since 1991, spent a decade as an all- volunteer organization, and since 2001, have employed a paid staff of one.

BCLT works with private landowners who voluntarily choose to work with us to preserve their land for generations to come. We use various tools to accomplish our goals, including purchase, bargain sales, and outright donations. Just as people have the opportunity to donate their car to charity for a tax deduction, they may also donate their interest in real property, or some part of it.

When approached by landowners, the first step the land trust takes is to identify the location of the property and the resources it contains to verify that it fits within our mission, strategic plan, and goals. We consider whether we can afford, and have the capacity, to take on the land as a conservation project. Once we make a decision to move forward, we work together with the landowner through the escrow process, very similar as one might do in buying a house.

We hire an independent, reputable appraiser, commission a preliminary title report, inspect the property for hazards, and raise funds for the purchase. We consider several factors in our planning efforts, including long-term management and monitoring needs that could include such things as enforcement against trespassers and illegal activity, encroachments, and repairs and restoration needed on site.

From biologists and archaeologists to educators, farmers, and the business community, we collaborate with others in an effort to share expertise, keep costs reasonable, and make sure the land is managed right. Last year, only 1% of the funds we raised went towards operations—very low by industry standards – with the rest invested in our programs. BCLT currently works throughout San Diego's back country, with conservation projects in Alpine, Potrero, and Jamul, including community nature preserves, mountainous watersheds, and working farms.

In addition to our program work, BCLT takes itself seriously as a nonprofit charity. We file our annual 990 form with the IRS each year, available at We reach out to our supporters, share information in our newsletter, plan education projects, and work with donors at all levels who are interested in helping us succeed in preserving San Diego's scenic and diverse back country.

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