It is often noted and well remembered that Arizona is one of the states with the fastest growing population in the nation. The growth of our population during the 1990s, 24 percent, ranked only behind Nevada. The state's growth rate in the 1980s was third, once again behind Nevada, and Alaska. This rapid growth has created the worry that Arizona's exceptional natural beauty will soon be buried under tract houses, golf courses and strip malls; a worry leading to several government initiatives to preserve the State's natural heritage.
It is not necessary, however, for Arizona's residents to prod elected officials and bureaucrats into action in order to conserve the state's natural beauty. There is a long tradition, in this state and nationwide, of private citizens using private resources to conserve nature. This report looks at one of the means of private conservation: the land trust. Land trusts, as defined by the Land Trust Alliance, are nonprofit organizations that work to conserve land by undertaking or assisting direct land transactions. Land trusts acquire, through purchase or donation, land or conservation easements on land. The organization itself may hold these acquisitions, or transfer them to a public agency. Through various means, land trusts have conserved 3.2 million acres in the United States. 
 Land Trust Alliance (1998), 1998 National Directory of Conservation Land Trusts, Washington, DC.