What I learned at Camp

What I learned at Camp

Mar. 02, 2011

An Excerpt from Board Matters from LTA Saving Land Spring 2011


What I Learned at Camp


Creating an Internal Loan Fund

Across the country, Aimee Rutledge applies what she learned at the boot camp she attended in 2009 to The Wilderness Land Trust, a nationwide group with a California program that Rutledge manages.


“We are working hard to develop private financing mechanisms such as those discussed at the camp,” says Rutledge.


“We purchase private inholdings that threaten federally designated wilderness areas with incompatible development, then transfer those inholdings to the appropriate federal agency to permanently protect the wilderness. In most cases, we have to be able to close quickly with the private owners,which means we have to have quick access to funding.”


Rutledge says the group had been dealing with private individual lenders on a case by case basis, but had been developing a different concept when she went to the camp. “The camp offered ways to think about private equity financing, about how to group individuals together. That really helped us gel our idea of the Wilderness Opportunity Fund (WOF), an internal loan fund we created to work with donors to get advance pledges and commitments, which then gives us the ability to quickly purchase an inholding.” 


With a long list of inholdings, Rutledge says only 3-5 % become available per year, usually because of a generational change.  “The beauty of the WOF is that as soon as we sell the property to the Bureau of Land Management, or to the Forest or Park Service, we can rotate those funds back in. It’s the WOF that keeps on giving. It gives us quick, business-like buying power, so we can quickly purchase the properties, then rotate the funds back in and use them over and over again. Depending on their needs, investors have access to some interest return, and the satisfaction of knowing that their assets are being used to protect these wonderful properties.”


Rutledge enjoyed her experience at the boot camp so much that the following year she went back, only this time as an invited speaker. “We wanted to share our experience working more with private equity financing and how to use resource mitigation as a tool to protect conservation lands. It was great to go back. Directly learning from the other knowledgeable participants and speakers is the best part of the camp.


For the Complete story visit: http://www.landtrustalliance.org/about/saving-land/spring-2011/spring-2011

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Since it was founded in 1992, The Wilderness Land Trust organization has preserved 447 parcels comprised of more than 48,872 acres of wilderness inholdings in 103 designated and proposed wilderness areas. 

(Updated 12/2017)