Thanks to a community that is very conservation-minded, the Salisbury Land Trust has succeeded in obtaining protection of important agricultural, ecological, and scenic resources. From a gift of land, we established the Schlesinger Bird Preserve. We helped the Sharon Land Trust with the purchase of “Twin Oaks” field, protecting the magnificent view from our common border, and cooperated with the Nature Conservancy to safeguard the Sages Ravine. With the participation of many generous donors and an open space grant from the State, we purchased 123 acres on Dark Hollow Road, creating a nature preserve with hiking trails open to the public. Other notable projects include preservation of the Tory Hill and Red Mountain vistas, conservation easements for lakefront properties to help protect water quality, and land protection along scenic country roads
The land trust works with interested landowners to establish conservation protection of their property. Several land protection options are available including conservation easements (conservation restrictions), donation of land, and land purchase.
a) Conservation Easements
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Preparation of an easement requires careful drafting of documents and maps, baseline documentation, and professional appraisal. The land trust assumes long-term responsibility for ensuring that the easement terms are followed.
Conservation easements offer flexibility, and restrictions can be tailored to the particular property and interests of the landowner. For example, an easement on property containing important wildlife habitat might prohibit any development, while an easement on a farm might allow for continued farming and additional agricultural structures, as defined in the agreement. An easement may apply to a portion of the landowner’s property. It need not require public access. The owner continues to own the restricted land and may sell it or pass it on to heirs, subject to the restriction.
If the easement provides a public benefit by permanently protecting conservation resources, and meets other federal tax code requirements, it may qualify as a tax-deductible charitable donation. The amount of the donation is the appraised difference between the land’s value with the easement and its value without the easement.
b) Donation of Land
The land trust will consider accepting gifts of land that provide a significant conservation benefit and meet legal requirements. Donation of land may be made through a Will or Trust.
The land trust prefers to conserve land through donation of an easement or an outright gift of land. Sometimes, however, the land trust is asked to purchase land or an easement on the land in order to protect important conservation values.
Stewardship is another land trust responsibility. Stewardship may involve writing and implementing land management plans, ongoing maintenance, trail construction, removal of invasive plants, selective bush hogging, mowing paths, opening up views, obtaining professional help when needed, regular monitoring, and taking legal action in the event that conservation restrictions are violated.
Examples of land management include work at the Tory Hill property to keep the vista open and to enhance wildlife habitat. At the Railroad Ramble (bike path between Salisbury and Lakeville), stewardship involves replacing invasive plants at the pond area with native species. Managing the Schlesinger Bird Preserve requires maintaining its special habitat to encourage a variety of bird life. The Ellsworth field, diagonally across from the Library, is cut in August after ground-nesting birds have fledged. At Moore Brook the land trust has monitored the population of both rare and invasive plants.
An important land trust responsibility is making sure that the terms of a conservation easement are followed. This involves annual monitoring of conserved properties for which the land trust is responsible.
To help our future stewards of the land understand and appreciate the natural world, the Salisbury Land Trust has been funding environmental education programs for local schools for over fifteen years. Students and Boy Scouts also participate in maintenance projects at land trust properties, with land trust supervision.
The Salisbury Land Trust sponsors art and photography shows with a local landscape theme and offers occasional tours of special locations in Town, such as the Salmon Kill Valley and the area from Factory Street up to Mt. Riga.
Salisbury Land Trust publications include informative booklets about our local environment (“A Guide to Birding in the Northwest Corner”), trail guides (“Hiking Trails and Short Walks around Salisbury”), and the Salisbury Conservation Map.
Get in touch with the Salisbury Land Trust. Learn about opportunities for conservation protection of your property.
Join the Salisbury Association. Its newsletter provides updates about the Salisbury Land Trust, a committee within the Association. To become a member, call the office at 860-435-0566 or stop by the Academy Building at 24 Main Street, Salisbury, weekday mornings.
Volunteer for a project. Join members of the land trust and other volunteers for a “work party” to help maintain a land trust property. Help monitor conserved land.
Make a donation to the Salisbury Land Trust.
Leave a bequest of money or land for conservation purposes.
The Salisbury Land Trust is a publicly supported charitable organization exempt from taxation under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Gifts to the land trust are tax deductible.