Photo by John D. Morrison, Prairie Vistas Photography

PLJV Land Trust Program

With just 1.2% of grasslands currently protected for plants and wildlife, the PLJV region has some of the lowest rates of grassland protection in the country. Our goal is to reach 5% protection, or a total of 2.2 million acres, in the next 15 years. The PLJV Land Trust Program is designed to help our conservation partnership reach that goal – while helping landowners meet their goals.

Our granting focus is to build capacity for organizations working to preserve undisturbed grassland habitat and working lands.

For over 30 years, ConocoPhillips funding has nurtured on-the-ground conservation through PLJV grants awarded to organizations throughout our region, supporting many priority bird species by conserving over 100,000 acres of habitat. In 2019, that legacy grantmaking program evolved to focus exclusively on grassland habitat protection via voluntary conservation easements on working lands by helping agricultural land trusts expand their reach and impact. This program is now called the PLJV Land Trust Program and is part of our core grassland conservation strategies.

“As land-use change intensifies and woody plant encroachment continues to impact grassland dependent species, it is important that we prioritize initiatives preserving and expanding habitats critical to those species,” said Jesse Wood, ConocoPhillips Director of Permian Ecology and Sustainable Development and a PLJV Management Board member.

Currently, five land trusts operating in all six PLJV states are active under this program: Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Nebraska Land Trust, New Mexico Land Conservancy, Ranchland Trust of Kansas, and Texas Agricultural Land Trust. These land trusts have protected more than 62,000 acres as part of their ongoing activities since the new program launched, with 147,000 more acres expected next year. The land trusts are also working together to support efforts across the PLJV region, and in 2022 received a $4 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s America the Beautiful program to conserve more than 250,000 acres of grassland over the next four years. We believe this program is perfectly positioned to attract even more resources going forward.

“The PLJV Land Trust program is an innovative approach that builds the capacity needed to identify key habitats and takes action to preserve intact grasslands at the landscape scale,” said Wood. “ConocoPhillips is proud of our long-term partnership with PLJV. Through this strategic partnership, we can work towards a common goal to reverse species decline trends and achieve long-lasting ecological gains.”

Program Funding

The PLJV Land Trust Program is made possible through ongoing contributions by ConocoPhillips as well as through annual funding support for our base operations from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In facilitating the selection and cultivation of these grantees, ConocoPhillips continues to be critical to the success of our habitat protection goals, helping us to develop a highly valuable collaborative partnership that can generate over 140,000 acres of grassland protection per year. We thank ConocoPhillips for its foundational and ongoing role in ensuring its success.

Why ConocoPhillips Invests in Habitat Conservation

ConocoPhillips’ heritage of environmental care dates back more than 100 years. Conoco and Phillips, the key predecessor companies, often had operations on the Southern Plains in areas vital to migrating birds. Habitat preservation has been an interest of multiple generations of company leaders and employees.

“When Playa Lakes Joint Venture launched in 1989, it offered a unique opportunity for our company to collaborate with regional partners from wildlife agencies, conservation groups, and private industry who shared a common goal of conserving and protecting the playas, prairies, and landscapes that benefited grassland birds and other wildlife, across a six-state region near our areas of operation,” said Josh Demorrett, Director of State Government Affairs at ConocoPhillips and former PLJV Management Board Member.

In 2016, PLJV celebrated 25 years of partnering with ConocoPhillips on habitat conservation (see infographic). Over the course of the partnership, more than $2.9 million in grants were awarded to support over 175 habitat conservation projects throughout the PLJV region. Together with partner matching contributions, those funds were leveraged to more than $20 million. Cumulatively, the awarded projects have positively affected over 100,000 acres of critical habitat and benefited more than 65 priority bird species in the PLJV region.

ConocoPhillips support continues to fund grassland conservation through our Land Trust Program. The success of this ongoing partnership has also paved the way for collaborative efforts between ConocoPhillips and other migratory bird joint ventures that seek to stop grassland losses and reverse the decline of grassland bird populations, including the JV8 Central Grasslands Conservation Initiative.


If your organization is interested in collaborating with PLJV to conserve and protect grasslands, please contact Zach Hurst.

Contact Us

Playa Lakes Joint Venture is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization (EIN 84-1623284).

PO Box 957 Erie, CO 80516

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