Is the Southbury Land Trust a part of the Southbury town government?

A. No. The Land Trust is a private non-profit corporation supported by our members. We are registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c) 3 corporation, which means that donations to us are, under most circumstances, eligible for tax deductions. We are registered with the State of Connecticut as The Southbury Land Trust, Inc.

Who runs the Southbury Land Trust?

A. The Board of Trustees is responsible for all aspects of the organization. Trustees serve for three year terms which are staggered so that a portion of the Board is up for election every year at the annual meeting. In addition to the Trustees, all of whom are volunteers, the Land Trust has a part-time administrative director and a part-time stewardship director.

How does the Land Trust acquire land?

A. We’ve received outright gifts of land as well as gifts of conservation restrictions. Sometimes we receive land that is preserved under the Town’s subdivision regulations which require 15% of the property to remain undeveloped.

Most often we acquire land from landowners who want their property preserved but who wish to be compensated for it. We usually use a combination of federal and state grants, funding from the Town’s Open Space Acquisition Fund, and individual contributions to finance these acquisitions. Several generous landowners have offered land to us at less than its fair market value. In these cases they have been able to use the difference between the sale price and the appraised value as a charitable deduction on their income taxes. We can also receive land and funds when supporters mention us in their wills. If you are interested in learning more about how to preserve your land please call our office 203-264-4441.

What is a conservation easement?

A. Actually the correct term is conservation restriction (CR), although “easement” is still more common. A CR is a voluntary legal agreement entered into between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization such as the Land Trust, or a government entity. In order to protect the land’s natural resource values, a legal document is written which permanently limits a property’s uses. The most common types prohibit any residential and commercial development. The landowner continues to own the property conserved by the CR and can sell or otherwise transfer the land to a different person. The CR, however, remains in force with the new owner. The landowner usually retains the right to use the land in ways that don’t violate the terms of the CR. For example, a farmer would be able to continue growing crops, grazing animals, maintaining barns, and conducting other agricultural activities on the land.

It’s quite a responsibility to manage more than 1.000 acres of land. How does the Land Trust do this?

A. We are very fortunate to have a number of dedicated volunteers who regularly monitor our properties to make sure there are no problems such as illegal dumping of trash, cutting of trees, etc. Our Stewardship Committee has developed systems for posting property lines, working with neighbors and using checklists to keep track of properties under our control.

Are all Land Trust properties open to the public?

A. Generally all of our properties are open to the public from dawn to dusk and are posted with signs that state this. On some properties the public may be required to avoid certain areas so as not to interfere with agricultural activities, endangered habitat, or for safety reasons. [It should be noted that landowners granting conservation easements on their property are not always required to allow public access.]