Learn About Land Trusts

Jesse Wolf Hardin shares information with readers who want to learn about land trusts.

| August/September 2002

Learn about land trusts to protect yourself from urban sprawl.

In our age of urban, suburban and even rural sprawl, no land is sacred. But there are steps you can take to improve the odds, learn about land trusts to ensure your beloved property won't someday be leveled for yet another condominium development or amusement park.

Land covenants are land-use restrictions between buyers and sellers, or between partners. They're attached to the property deed and are recorded at the local county courthouse. However, protection of covenants is up to the new owner, and the covenants can be easily overturned

A conservation easement is a type of self-zoning, where you guarantee some land-use activities and prohibit others by relinquishing certain landowner rights to a monitoring and enforcing agency (such as a local land trust organization or the U.S. Forest Service). There are easements guaranteeing property will never be logged, will always be reserved for agriculture or will remain undeveloped.

Conservation trusts are another level of protection, where you either donate or will your property to an existing trust, or set up your own. Trusts are nonprofit corporations with a charter that defines the uses of the land it owns or controls. Starting and maintaining your own trust can be challenging, even for a cooperating neighborhood group.

— Jesse Wolf Hardin

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