How We Conserve
The Aquidneck Land Trust primarily uses permanent conservation easements to protect important open space properties from development and other threats.
ALT generally conserves land with conservation easements instead of owning the land outright because such easements:
- Enable landowners to continue to own their beloved land
- Help ensure private land stays on municipal tax rolls
- Limit ALT’s liability by not being the first-in-line landowner
- Receive special statutory and legal protections and benefits afforded perpetual conservation easements
- Limit ALT’s stewardship costs because the landowner works as the primary steward
- Lower acquisition costs because ALT is not purchasing the full fee simple title of the land
- Keep land in active agriculture
WHAT IS A CONSERVATION EASEMENT?
A conservation easement is a perpetual legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified organization, such as a land trust, that restricts future activities on the land so as to protect its conservation values (wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, important agricultural soils, etc.) while also allowing the landowner to continue owning the land. Learn more about how a conservation easement works.
Easements can be designed to:
- Protect natural habitat from destruction by conversion to other uses such as subdivision and development.
- Protect open space of varying kinds from development or other disturbances.
- Conserve forests through limitations on forest management and development.
- Preserve agriculture and grazing lands from subdivision and development.
- Protect water resources by limiting disturbance of lands in the watershed.
- Provide for public use and access for recreation, such as through trail easements.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF CONSERVED LAND?
In general, there are three different “levels” of conserved land.
LAND CONSERVED WITH A PERPETUAL CONSERVATION RESTRICTION (Strongest protection): Land that has a perpetual conservation restriction (e.g., Conservation Easement or Deed to Development Rights) on it held by an entity, besides the landowner, that is recognized as a qualified holder organization under s. 170(h) of the Internal Revenue Code (e.g., governmental agency or land trust).
LAND CONSERVED WITH A DEED RESTRICTION (Less protection) – Land encumbered by deed restrictions and owned by a qualified holder organization, but the land lacks a perpetual conservation restriction held by an outside qualified holder organization.
LAND CONSERVED WITH CONSERVATION INTENT ALONE (Least protection) – Land owned by a qualified holder organization with the intent to keep the land in conservation but the land lacks deed restrictions or a perpetual conservation restriction held by an outside qualified holder organization. This is a weak level of protection because there is a lack of checks and balances and intentions change regularly. Good conservation is like good government, it requires checks and balances!
MERRITT NEIGHBORHOOD FUND PROGRAM
Can I Receive Help Saving or Improving a Small Community Open Space?
If you have a small community space you’d like to save or improve, consider applying for a community conservation grant through Aquidneck Land Trust’s Merritt Neighborhood Fund program.
The Fund’s modest $100-$2,500 grants are designed to encourage the preservation and appropriate use, for community good, of small open spaces serving residential neighborhoods and other community areas. Sample projects include pocket parks, community gardens, and transformation of neglected properties for community recreational and environmental benefit.
The Merritt Neighborhood Fund was established in 1999 to honor the late Peter M. Merritt, the organization’s visionary past president, for his decade of leadership. Peter had a vision to someday execute the mission of the Land Trust on a smaller scale to benefit individual neighborhoods across the island.
If you have questions about ALT’s Merritt Neighborhood Fund, please contact our Development Director, Laura Freedman Pedrick, at (401) 849-2799 ext. 18, or firstname.lastname@example.org.