What is a Land Trust?


A scene from the James Thiel Preserve in Sawyer County.

Land Trust is a term generally used to describe non-profit conservation organizations that either buy land or hold conservation easements, or both.  Land trusts work in partnership with landowners and communities to permanently conserve natural resources.  Some are large, well known organizations working nationally, like The Nature Conservancy.  Others work regionally, and some work in very small locales.  All land trusts are run by a volunteer board of directors and some also have staff.  Their common objective is to preserve land that has significant ecological, scenic, recreational, agricultural, cultural or historic value for generations to come.  Land trusts are the fastest growing conservation movement in the United States.

Couderay Waters Regional Land Trust is a non-profit organization that works with landowners and local groups to protect and promote the natural environment in northwestern Wisconsin. Land trusts use conservation easements, mutual covenants, land purchases, donations, and volunteer efforts to permanently protect natural areas.  Outreach and education is also an important facet of land trust work.

Land trust volunteers bring a variety of skills to the table. They share skills in law, real estate, education, communications, fundraising, management, conservation, biology, and environmental fields.  In many instances, the most committed people behind a land trust are the landowners themselves. They care about protecting their land and want to leave a legacy for future generations and they know that participation in a land trust is a key to securing that legacy.  When landowners involve a land trust in permanently preserving their property, not only do they gain their objective of a protected and conserved environment, but every neighboring landowner gains as well.

You will find a series of articles on this website that provide more information about land trusts, how they work, and what benefits there are to the property owners as well as the general public.