Fairfield Land Preservation Association


            A Partner in Land Protection

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What is a land trust?
A: A land trust is a nonprofit organization that is directly involved in protecting important land resources for the public benefit. "Important" means that the lands have natural, scenic, productive, historic, or recreational value to the community. Land trusts are the fastest-growing arm of the conservation movement today. Collectively, local and regional land trusts have preserved over 4.7 million acres in communities across the country.


 Q: What special advantages do land trusts have?
A: As private organizations, land trusts offer quick response, flexibility, and confidentiality. They also have the ability to cooperate with both government agencies and other private organizations on conservation projects. Land trusts also provide a cost-effective approach to conservation, often protecting land at a cost far below its market value. Perhaps most importantly, a land trust can respond creatively and effectively to local conservation needs. Unlike national or statewide land trusts, a local land trust knows the area's land resources best. The land-protection program of the Fairfield Land Preservation Association is tailored to the needs and vision of the Fairfield County community.

Q:  What is a conservation easement?

A A conservation easement is a legal document that spells out the development restrictions on the land. As with other kinds of easements, such as utility, mining, or access easements, the landowner retains ownership of the land. The conservation easement runs with the deed to the land and is usually permanent.

Q:  How can conservation easements be used to protect farmland?

A An agricultural conservation easement is a specific type of conservation easement that ensures that the land will remain suitable for agricultural use in the future. Certain sections of the farm may be excluded from the easement. Typically, there may also be some provisions for limited development, such as the construction of farm buildings or housing for a family member.

Q:  Why do landowners donate conservation easements?

A:  Donors of conservation easements often feel a strong attachment to their land. They may have looked after the land for years or generations. They also recognize that the land represents an important environmental and community resource. Donating an easement (or land) to a conservancy brings peace of mind because the landowner knows the land will be permanently protected from unwanted development.

Q:  Are there financial benefits to preserving land?

A Tax advantages are often an important factor in a landowner's decision to donate land or a conservation easement to a land trust. Charitable gifts of land or development rights typically reduce both federal income taxes and estate taxes. Property taxes, which are locally determined, may drop as well once the development potential of the land has been removed. Tax savings will depend on the owner's financial situation as well as the type of land transaction chosen. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney is essential.

 Q:  How do the Association's efforts benefit the community?

A:  The Association's land-protection efforts benefit the public in a number of ways:

·        Protecting land helps maintain the county's rural character. People living in Fairfield County don't have to travel to experience beautiful and peaceful natural surroundings. Whether we are hiking in the various parks or nature preserves, visiting a local farm for apples or sweet corn, or simply driving through the countryside to and from work, the landscape of the county is something we enjoy every day. Protecting land helps to protect the special quality of life available in Fairfield County.

* Protecting land has environmental benefits. Crop fields, woodlots, wetlands, streams, and even fencerows provide habitat for wildlife. They also provide plant cover that reduces stormwater runoff and erosion, keeping our streams and soils healthy. These undeveloped lands also provide permeable surfaces that allow rainwater to recharge groundwater supplies.

*Protecting land saves tax dollars. Much of the open land in Fairfield County is agricultural land. Studies of the cost of community services have repeatedly shown that farmland generates more in local taxes than it demands in public services compared to residential development. Land protection and services to new development both cost money, but money spent on land protection is more likely to create a healthy, attractive community.

* Land protection promotes good land-use planning. Identifying areas and sites that are most suitable for preservation can help channel growth to the most appropriate locations.

Q:  How is the Associaiton funded?

A:  The Fairfield Land Preservation Association is funded primarily through membership dues and other gifts and contributions from individuals and businesses. In addition, we conduct periodic fund-raising events and seek grants from foundations and government agencies. In special cases, the Association may conduct project campaigns to raise money for the purchase of a particular parcel or conservation easement.

Q:  How can I contribute to the Association's efforts?

A:  Become a member of the Fairfield Land Preservation Association. If you have some time or expertise to lend, join one of our committees. If you know a landowner who might want to preserve his or her land, pass along a copy of our brochure or our phone number. If you know of a special place or land resource in the county that should be protected, tell us about it. We want to be responsive to the needs and vision of the community.