Going Green: Matters of Trust

Ted Lennon straddles the line between development and open space.

Kyle Martin/Sherrill & Associates

Ted Lennon is president of the board of directors for Desert Mountains Land Trust.
He’s also one of the best-known local developers.

How did you get involved with environmental activists?

This was in 1987 and I was developing The Vintage Club and was just starting to think about The Reserve Club. I knew Bill Havert, Katie Barrows, and Buford Crites — the people involved in the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy — and I kind of thought they had the right idea. So initially they came to see if I’d help raise funds, and my involvement grew from there.

How did the Desert Mountains Land Trust come about?

It started as a way to raise funds for the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy. Then the conservancy became a state-chartered organization. Once they come under [the purview of] the state, they have terrific limitations on their ability to do deals and react to things in a limited time period. So we said, “Gee, what we should do is be kind of a sister organization that can react quickly, can be entrepreneurial, and can do some great things.” We didn’t want to be political. We never politically try to stop any development. We’re just a very proactive entity that helps set aside land.

Why do you have such a dedication to the environment?

I have a college degree in civil and environmental engineering. I have an eye for detail and, I’d say, what’s beautiful. And nature’s the most beautiful thing around. As a developer, you’ve got to appreciate the right amount of open space. For myself, there’s a feeling I have of needing open space. It’s like our desert is this giant sculpture and we’re all making it what it’s going to end up being.
What else does the trust do?

We don’t just buy land. We do everything from setting up educational programs for the [Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains] National Monument to cleanup of tamarisk and other invasive plants. This year, we’re going to go out and help with the eagle count in Hemet.

How is the trust viewed in other communities?

I think we’re well respected nationally. We’re able to compromise and come up with good solutions, mixing developers with Sierra Club people. There are more people recognizing the value of green building, solar [energy], and open space. The marketing people are telling us there’s money in that. It used to be everybody had to build on a golf course to make money. Now they’re telling us that open space is just as valuable as being on a fairway. If you have that in your yard, that’s a great value.

What would the valley look like without the trust?

I think there are 80,000 acres of developed property in the Coachella Valley, and they believe another 80,000 will be developed by the year 2060. Our group has been involved in setting aside 30,000 acres of open space. So we’ve played a real part in what the valley looks like today.
Edit Module
Palm Springs Life
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Fantasy Springs Cupcake Challenge Amateur Winner Enters Son's Choice

Christina Smith may want to rethink her day job after winning first place in the amateur division of the Third Annual Fantasy Springs Cupcake Challenge on Nov. 16 at the casino’s Special Events Center.

Alexis Bittar Shines as Brightly as His Jewelry at Saks Fifth Avenue

Famed jewelry deisgner Alexis Bittar made a personal appearance and trunk show stop on Nov. 14 at tony retailer Saks Fifth Avenue in Palm Desert to showcase his luxurious, yet affordable haute couture baubles.

Maria Bartiromo Brings FOX Show to Palm Springs

Maria Bartiromo is bringing her Opening Bell" show on FOX Business Network to the EY Strategic Growth Forum on Nov. 14 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert.

Mummenschanz Brings Message Through Playful Act to McCallum Theatre

Swiss mask theater group Mummenschanz is anxious to be back in front of California audiences Nov. 13 as part of the Palm Desert International Dance Festival and Choreography Festival at McCallum Theatre.

See the Artistic Side of E. Stewart Williams at Architecture and Design Exhibit

Upon viewing the opening exhibition on E. Stewart Williams when the newly crowned Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design, Edwards Harris Pavilion opens Nov. 9, you may be surprised to know he was also quite an artist.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.