During the summer of 1993, following an early growth spurt and the first development scars on St. George’s scenic hillsides, a large group of farmers and concerned citizens got together to discuss the protection of important community open space. The group invited speakers from other areas in Utah that had already begun to find answers to these challenges. Among these speakers was the director of Utah’s first land trust, based in Park City. After several meetings, there was a consensus to start southern Utah’s own local nonprofit land trust, because a local organization is most sensitive to local landowner concerns and local community priorities. The Virgin River Land Preservation Association was incorporated in October 1993.
The board of trustees was comprised of long-time residents, farmers, and professionals. It was difficult for the board to settle on a name. There were roughly 1100 land trusts across the country at the time, and most of them used “land trust” in their name. But a Utah law prohibits the use of the word “trust” in a business entity’s name unless the entity is a financial institution. So, despite its noteworthy length, the group settled on Virgin River Land Preservation Association, or VRLPA for short. We have adopted “Virgin River Land” both as a nickname and as the name of our website.