OSI Conservation Finance Program Overview

Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

Conservation Capital

Connecticut River Valley, Monkman Photo 

With the economic downturn and resulting decline in public and private funding for land protection, closing conservation transactions has become more challenging than ever. OSI works with donors and land trusts to facilitate conservation projects by helping to structure deals and getting conservation dollars where they're needed, when they're needed.


OSI's seeks to accelerate the rate and effectiveness of conservation by providing grants and short-term, low-cost bridge loans for land transactions in selected landscapes in the eastern United States.

What We Do

The program seeks to protect diverse landscapes that include parks and preserves as well as working farms and forests; and supports projects that provide habitat for rare or endangered species, protect unique water or land features, enhance recreational access, or protect sustainably managed lands.

OSI loans and grants give priority to projects that enhance existing conservation lands, help to channel or redirect development away from sensitive natural areas or that will protect open spaces under immediate threat of being developed.

During the last ten years since 2003, OSI has made $113 million in loans, in nine states and one Canadian province. (March 2013)

Where We Work

OSI's currently (2012) administers conservation grant programs: Resilient Landscape Initiative (in four east coast regions), southeastern Canada (Transborder), New England's Community Forests, New Jersey Bayshore/Pennsylvania Highlands, southern Cumberlands and western Massachusetts.

OSI works closely with foundations to design and administer capital regrant programs, and with land trusts to structure and implement successful transactions. Using objective criteria and external advisors, we use competitive RFP processes, where appropriate, to direct capital to a mix of large and small, national and regional land conservation organizations working to permanently protect open space.

Although we accept loan applications from eligible borrowers anywhere in North America, OSI operates special loan funds in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Northern Forest, the southern Appalachians, western Massachusetts, and New York State.

Who We Are

Peter Howell, Executive Vice President, oversees the Conservation Capital program. Peter, a Wharton MBA and former director of environmental grantmaking programs at the Doris Duke Charitable and Wallace foundations.

Nate Berry, Credit Manager, is based in Charleston, SC

Samayla Deutch, an OSI vice president and senior counsel with extensive real estate experience, provides legal oversight of Conservation Finance Program grants and loans. sdeutch@osiny.org

Jennifer Melville, who has extensive experience in land acquisition, environmental policy and advocacy, is the Loan and Grant Coordinator and New England/Southern Canada field coordinator as well as the Southeast program. Jennifer is based in Maine and can be reached at jmelville@osiny.org

Bill Rawlyk, Middle Atlantic Field Coordinator is the former director of land protection at D&R Greenway, Inc. and is based in Pittstown, NJ. You can reach Bill at: brawlyk@osiny.org




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