Protecting Your Land

Protecting Your Land

What is a land trust?

Land trusts are private, non-profit, tax-exempt organizations funded largely through membership dues and gifts from individuals, businesses, and foundations. Trusts accept donations of both land and Conservation Restrictions on land considered at risk. A trust works with the community to help land owners understand land protection options and to help all members of the community enjoy and value protected natural and scenic areas.

How can I own my land and protect it at the same time?

That is the purpose of a Conservation Restriction: to preserve the land as open space in perpetuity. It is a valuable tool for both land trusts and landowners who wish to be certain that their acres remain undeveloped. The owner is assured that the land will be protected forever – but that the land owner can continue to use it for agriculture, forestry, wildlife habitat, and passive recreation. The holder of the CR (a land trust or comparable organization) agrees to monitor the use of the land to insure that the original intent of owner is honored. While each CR is slightly different because of the differences in land and in the needs of the owners, all are reviewed and approved by both local and state government officials to insure that the final Conservation Restriction deed is in the best interest of the owner, the holder of the CR, and the public. Land trusts, including RGT, also hold Conservation Restrictions on publicly-owned land so town residents can be assured the land will continue to be protected for conservation.

How else can land be permanently protected?

Land can be given or sold to a land trust (or comparable organization) with written assurance that it will be protected from development in perpetuity. Such a decision relieves the landowner of the burden of management while assuring the continued protection of the property. The land trust is then responsible for managing the land based on the unique needs of the property.

How Do I Learn More?

  • Conservation Restrictions

    You will not find a list of the Conservation Restrictions held by RGT on this website – simply because they are privately owned. But if you would like to talk with us (or the owners of those lands) about the experience of having a CR, contact us.

  • Land Owned by a Land Trust

    A list of the properties owned by RGT are on this website. Please visit them, or if you would like to tour them with an RGT Board Member, contact us.

  • How do you decide what is best for you and your land?

    It takes time and thought. You need to consider what is special about your property; what your long-term goals for the land have been, what your needs are now, and, finally, if land protection is a way to achieve your goals. A formidable list. If you would like to talk through some of your ideas, contact us.

Additional Helpful Resources

  • Land Conservation Options: A Guide for Massachusetts Landowners is published by the Essex County Greenbelt Association and The Trustees of Reservations. It is available online
  • Each of the land trust and land conservation organizations listed on our Links page as a very good section on land conservation and protection. There is information on the taxes and land conservation at Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition.