Land trusts are private, nonprofit conservation organizations that work with willing landowners to voluntarily protect pristine streams, forests, farms, scenic views, and places with unique natural, cultural or historic attributes. Land trusts are essential institutions that provide a foundation for healthy, vibrant, safe and diverse communities. Land trusts are constantly creating more opportunities for people to get outdoors to hike, bike, paddle, hunt, fish, and enjoy nature.
Land trusts often protect natural lands with conservation agreements (also called conservation easements). These permanent agreements enable landowners to preserve their land while maintaining ownership. The agreements are purely voluntary and are tailored to meet the needs of the landowner while enabling the land trust to protect the property’s natural assets. Each agreement is different, based on the needs of the owner and the unique characteristics of the property. Conservation agreements limit the right to subdivide or develop the land, but often allow continued farming or forest management.
Land trusts also protect land by acquiring properties from willing sellers or donors. The land trust may retain ownership and manage it as a preserve, or convey the property to an agency such as the National Park Service or NC State Parks for public use.