What is a Land Trust?
Land Trusts are local private organizations involved in protecting important land resources for the public benefit. They are the fastest growing part of the conservation movement.
What is the Nation Ford Land Trust?
The Trust is a private, non-profit, tax exempt organization dedicated to enhancing the
quality of life in York County by preserving its open space, natural beauty, and scenic
heritage. Its goals are: to control the use of land by acquiring interest in significant
property; educate the public as to the necessity, importance, benefits, and impact of open
spaces; and operate exclusively for charitable and educational purposes.
Why was the Trust organized?
The Trust can help retain the rural character of our community. York County's rapid growth
requires special care to preserve our natural heritage. With undeveloped land becoming
scarcer and scarcer, many people are concerned about preserving our remaining natural
areas. The Nation Ford Land Trust is one way to conserve this heritage.
How does a land trust work?
It seeks to acquire land through gift, purchase, or conservation easement as a means of
preserving the attractive natural heritage of York County. Memberships in the Trust are
used to acquire property from conservation minded land owners. Since it is a non-profit
organization, donations to the Trust are tax deductible. The Trust can work outside the
realm of government or in cooperation with it to address the conservation desires of
individual land owners.
How can the trust help land owners?
Oftentimes property owners find themselves in a federal income tax bracket that would
make it advantageous tax-wise to donate land to a tax-exempt organization. A person with
a modest income may wish to donate land which he has owned for many years and which has
appreciated in value. Larger land owners may use donations as part of their overall
development plan. All land owners can receive estate, income, and property tax benefits
Who owns the land trust?
Every person who purchases a membership becomes a member and a partner in the effort to
conserve the natural heritage of York County. The Trust is run by a Board of Directors
composed of local citizens. The Directors set the policy for the corporation. Directors
are elected to three year terms.
Who may join the Trust?
Membership in the Nation Ford Land Trust is open to anyone interested in the future of
York County. With payment of dues, you automatically become a part of the Trust's
A Land Trust Primer Land trusts are private, nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations, funded largely through membership dues and donations from individuals, businesses, and foundations.
Land trusts protect land permanently and directly. They accept donations of properties, purchase land, or help landowners establish legal restrictions, such as a conservation easement, that limit harmful use and development
Land trusts protect land that has natural, recreation, scenic, historic, or productive value. Some preserve many different types of land. Others focus on a particular area or resource.
Land trusts are usually not adversarial, but work cooperatively with landowners, government agencies, and the private sector.
Land trusts generally define a geographic area in which they are active. They are usually governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Many land trusts are small and are run solely by volunteers, while larger trusts may have paid staffs and may manage thousands of acres of land.
Land trusts may be able to help landowners obtain professional assistance in the area of estate planning, tax and conservation law, and environmental assessment of their land.
Land trusts offer a flexible, successful, cooperative approach to land conservation, providing a creative answer to today's conservation challenges.
Options for Preserving Land The landowner may make a donation of the land to a land trust by gift or by will.
A variety of flexible options for preserving land can be used by land trusts to meet the needs of the landowner. Many of these options provide the property owner with tax benefits related to income, estate, or property taxes. Options include:
The land trust may purchase the land from the property owner. Sales for less than market value, called bargain sales, reduce the cost to the land trust and offer tax benefits to the owner.
The owner may establish a life estate, where the property is sold or donated to a land trust, but where the owner retains the right to live on it throughout his or her lifetime.
Limited development may be arranged, where the least environmentally sensitive portion of a valuable property is carefully developed in order to finance conservation of the rest. This allows for protection of the most important portions of a property while allowing the owner to profit from the development of the property.
The landowner may grant a conservation easement to the land trust. This is a perpetual legal agreement which permanently restricts harmful uses and development of the property. A conservation easement allows land to remain in private ownership and use while accomplishing the needed level of protection. Conservation easements can be tailored to the specific resources of the property and may provide some tax benefits to the owner.
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