Learn About Land Trusts
Land trusts are not-for-profit conservation organizations that work to preserve land for its natural, scenic, historical and productive values. Land trusts can own land in fee or they can hold an easement, a transaction where a landowner sells or donates his development rights.
Land trusts are not government agencies, but they do work closely with the local, county and state government. Partnerships often form between land trusts and government agencies as they work together to purchase land or easements, and manage preserved lands.
The land trust movement is growing in the United States. There are over 1,500 land trusts across the nation and it is estimated that a new land trust is started every week.
- Why preserve Hopewell Valley's open space?
There are many reasons why it is important to preserve open space.
- Open space saves taxpayers money: Studies have shown that open space may actually reduce the tax-burden for area residents. Open space does not require as many municipal services as developed areas. For example, the cost associated with police services, sewer services or roads is dramatically less for undeveloped land.
- Protecting biodiversity and unique ecosystems: Hopewell Valley is home to many threatened and endangered species. Without protection, our unique flora and fauna would be severely compromised.
- Preserving our history: The Valley contains some of our Country's historical treasures. It is where George Washington and his troops gathered after they crossed the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War and contains a myriad of 19th century historical farmsteads.
- Health benefits and recreational opportunities: You don't need to drive to the Highlands or the Pine Barrens to enjoy the outdoors. Preserved land in the Valley makes it possible for you walk the trails in Curlis Lake Woods - right in the heart of Pennington - or bird-watch on Baldpate Mountain.
- Preserving scenic beauty: Many people choose to live in the Valley precisely because of its natural beauty. It is one of the few places left in central New Jersey where you can watch the sun rise over tree-lined hilltops or see horses grazing on a pasture down the road.
- What is a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement that limits the uses of land in order to protect its conservation and/or historical value. Landowners can sell or donate conservation easements, and they will continue retain private ownership of their land.
Once a land trust holds a conservation easement on a property, the terms of the easement will apply to all of the future owners of the land.
- How does FoHVOS buy land?
Because land in New Jersey is at a premium, land conservation projects often involve many partners. FoHVOS often partners with the State of New Jersey, Mercer County, Hopewell Township, Hopewell Borough, Pennington Borough and other nonprofits, to purchase critical pieces of land. Other times, land or easements are donated by landowners committed to preserving the natural beauty of their land.
- What is stewardship?
Stewardship essentially means management; it is how a land trust takes care of its land. For FoHVOS, stewardship includes monitoring our preserves on a regular basis. It means we know our land and manage it in an environmentally-sensitive fashion.
D&R Greenway Land Trust
Land Trust Alliance
New Jersey Conservation Foundation
New Jersey Trails Association
Stony-Brook Millstone Watershed Association
Garden State Preservation Trust
Mercer County Park Commission
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Green Acres Program