The Restoration Trust was formed in 1998 to promote native habitat restoration and stewardship in central California.
At the time of the Trust's founding, many new subdivisions were built to included wetlands, creeks, grasslands, or other native habitats to satisfy the development's mitigation requirements. Once the subdivision developer completed their work, the community was frequently left to maintain and care for these restored habitats. These habitats then commonly become neglected and were often used as dumping grounds for everything from lawn clippings to concrete waste. The Trust was formed to help these communities deal with these resources and appreciate their habitat values rather than viewing them as wastelands or convenient dumping grounds.
The immediate genesis of the Trust was a 200-acre subdivision in Folsom, which had included a wetland violation. The developer resolved the violation, but the mitigation required substantial wetland and creek restoration, which replaced the softball and soccer fields that had been planned for the subdivision's central open space. Unfortunately, sales materials for the new homes had not been revised and many of the families that bought homes had looked forward to readily accessible playfields for their children. Wetlands and a restored creek were not shown in the sales brochures and the reaction of the community was quick and negative. Subsequent to several contentious community meetings, the nucleus of the Trust was formed as a way to engage the neighbors in the restored habitats. The Trust lead a series of educational events and field days for the community and 6 months later the community had formed its own wetlands support group and was on its way to assuming management and stewardship for the wetlands.
That initial experience formed the core of the Trust's mission--the promotion of habitat restoration and stewardship by the local community. The Trust's model is simple yet effective, engage the local community through direct stewardship and educational activities to protect and preserve important habitats.
The Trust has successfully employed this model in communities throughout central California including Fairfield, Orinda, Sacramento, Lodi, Martinez, and Stanford. The
Trust's work in Petaluma was recognized by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition.
Throughout the Trust's 17 year life, the scope and mission have expanded, allowing the Trust to lead restoration workshops, work in classrooms and work with schools to develop campus and off-campus environmental education programs.
In 2007, the Trust's Board amended its Bylaws to incorporate land trust capabilities.
In 2011 the Trust accepted its first conservation easement, the Dittmer Marshes. This project has enabled the Trust to promote and manage native seasonal wetland and grassland and study the effect of grazing on both habitats.
In late 2011, the Trust's board adopted the Land Trust Alliance's Standards and Practices, and in 2014 the Trust conducted a self-evaluation against the Standards and Practices. A copy of the self-evaluation can be found here. The Standards and Practices are guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust, which is run legally, ethically and in the public interest and conducts a sound program of land transactions and stewardship.