Land trusts vary greatly in scope and scale, but all of them share the common mission of working cooperatively with landowners to protect and conserve land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historic, or productive value.

What does this all mean and why is it important? It means that property owners who want to ensure the land they own is protected from future development have a means available to make such a wish come true. A landowner can voluntarily enter a legal agreement with a land trust (or government entity) that permanently restricts certain aspects of land use in order to protect the conservation values of the property.

The country’s first land trusts originated in the 1850s in Massachusetts. Today more than 1,500 local, regional, and national land trusts across the nation protect more than nine million acres of farmland, wetlands, ranches, forests, watersheds, and river corridors.

What this means is that the natural, recreational, scenic, historic, or productive value of the land is preserved for future generations to enjoy.