Property owners may convey a variety of property interests to the WLCT by gift, sale, or by will. We protect land only when invited to do so by the landowner, and all our discussions are confidential until an agreement on terms of the transaction is reached.
The WLCT owns most of its properties. That is, the landowner has transferred the entire property to the land trust. Conservation easements provide an alternate tool the WLCT can use to protect land in Warren. Under this arrangement, the WLCT does not own the land, we simply hold and enforce a set of restrictions called a conservation easement. The landowner continues to own the property and may sell it at any time.
The terms of a conservation easement are negotiated to satisfy the landowner’s intended uses of the property while preserving conservation values. These arrangements typically restrict any kind of development or subdivision within easement boundaries. Farming or recreational uses are typically allowed. Conservation easements do not require public access and may have exclusion areas for structures. Each site is different depending on the conservation values to be preserved.
Conservation easements can be donated for tax benefits. Or the WLCT may purchase a conservation easement on a property. All conservation easements are permanent and run with the land regardless of subsequent owners.
Protected properties require annual monitoring, which involves site visits and meetings with any landowners of conserved lands. These site visits ensure the terms of the conservation project are being followed while allowing the WLCT to check in with any landowners to discuss land management or any issues on the protected land.
Perpetuity is a long time. So, the WLCT will ask landowners to consider making a cash donation to our restricted endowment, for the perpetual care of their land donation. The restricted endowment ensures all of the WLCT properties continue to be monitored into the future regardless of the organization’s financial health. This endowment also ensures the WLCT has funds set aside for insurance, and for legal defense if ever needed.
The WLCT works in partnership with other conservation organizations and agencies, including Save the Bay, the US Natural Resource Conservation Service, the RI Department of Environmental Management, and the Town of Warren, to save open space in Warren.
Even though our land trust has been working to preserve land in our town for over three decades, there is still much work to do. The WLCT believes that protecting our scenic water ways, open space, forests, and farmland preserves the power of place that our residents and visitors appreciate.