- Pine Island Preserve at Matlacha Pass
- Siesta Key Conservation Area
- Bay Preserve at Osprey
- Michael Biehl Park
- Manasota Key Conservation Easement
- Casey Key Conservation Easement
- Mercy on the Manatee
Land Trusts are...
Land trusts are local, state or regional nonprofit organizations directly involved in protecting land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historical, and/or productive value. Land trusts are not "trusts" in the legal sense, and may also be called "conservancies," "foundations," or any number of other names descriptive of their purpose. There are more than 1,200 in the United States and in fact the oldest land trust has existed for more than 100 years. Most are private, nonprofit corporations.
What Do Land Trusts Accomplish?
Land trusts are distinguished by their firsthand involvement in land transactions and management.
Land trusts typically...
- Purchase or accept donations of land or of conservation easements (permanent, binding agreements that restrict the uses of land to protect its conservation resources).
- Manage their own land and land owned by others or advise landowners on how to preserve their land
- Cooperate with government agencies by acquiring or managing land, researching open space needs and priorities, and assisting in the development of open space plans.
- Collaborate with other nonprofit organizations and sometimes with developers.
Local Community Focus
As development pressure is mounting to unprecedented levels and challenges to County master plans and zoning continue, formation of a local land trust offers an opportunity for community members to take action to conserve those lands that make the Gulf Coast of Florida such a special place. Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast will provide an additional tool for compatible and appropriate development. We will work to maintain the character and environmental function of our bays, beaches and barrier islands including the working waterfront with the public access it provides.
Local Community Support
Most land trusts depend on volunteer leadership and support even if they also have professional staff. Locally, Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast has the potential to bring together a wide range of people, all whom care about special lands in the County. Interested parties include boaters, rowers, people who fish, waterfront landowners, garden clubs, fitness oriented groups, children's recreation programs, artists, conservation-minded citizens, municipalities, developers, and many more.
Advantages of Land Trusts
Land trusts have many advantages as a vehicle for protecting land. They can hold and manage land and other assets as a corporation. Because they are private organizations, land trusts can be more flexible and creative than public agencies, and can generally act more quickly than government agencies. They are able to negotiate with landowners discreetly and quickly.
Their nonprofit status brings them a variety of tax benefits. Donations of land, conservation easements or money may qualify for income, estate or gift tax savings. Properly structured land trusts are exempt from federal income taxes and sometimes from local property and real estate transfer taxes. Nonprofit status is also an advantage in raising funds.
As community-based organizations, land trusts draw on community resources, including volunteer time and skills. Their community orientation is also helpful in selecting and negotiating transactions. They are familiar with the land in the area and often have the trust and confidence of local landowners who may not want to work with public agencies or entities from outside the community.
We wish to thank the Land Trust Alliance who provided critical information and text for the preparation of this document; especially, from their publication "Starting a Land Trust: A Guide to Forming a Land Conservation Organization".
"protecting our bays, beaches and barrier islands"
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Join Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, May 7th at 10:00 to 11:30am and enter the fascinating world of bird rookeries.
Black & White Photography by Clyde Butcher