How Land Trusts Work

Conserving the Land

The landowners in and around West Central Idaho play a vital role in conserving the rural landscapes that define our region. Private landowners can help conserve their heritage, community, and land through a Conservation Easement. A Conservation Easement can be as simple as limiting specific development rights while the land owner retains the land as private property. As a landowner, you decide what type of legacy to leave for future generations.

Conservation Easements

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified organization, such as Payette Land Trust, that limits certain uses of the land – like a subdivision – in order to conserve the natural and traditional values of the land. Landowners grant conservation easements to protect the resources of their property while retaining the rights of private ownership. The terms of the conservation easement represent a mutual agreement between the landowner and the land trust. Granting a conservation easement does not mean that the landowner must grant public access to his or her property. We work only with willing landowners and do not ask the landowner to enter into an agreement that he or she is not satisfied with.

Community Benefits

Conserving open spaces, productive agricultural lands, and wildlife habitat enhance the West Central Mountains of Idaho by:

  • Providing Economic and Health Benefits for All. Open spaces increase recreational opportunities, improve community health, enhance overall quality of life and emotional well-being, attract businesses to our communities and increase the value of our property.
  • Protecting the Beauty of Central Idaho Forever. Conservation Easements encourage private landowners to voluntarily protect valuable land that makes up the history, unique heritage, and scenic landscapes of our beautiful region.
  • Providing a Voluntary Option to Protect Private Land.Conservation agreements provide the public benefits at a fraction of the cost of an outright purchase of lands for conservation.

Land Owner Benefits

Along with community benefits, there are many benefits to the landowner who chooses to conserve his or her land. To learn more about this visit our Land Owner Tools page.

Frequently Asked Questions About Land Trusts and the Benefits of Conservation

What is a Land Trust?

A land trust is a nonprofit organization that works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land or conservation easement acquisition, or by its stewardship of such land or easements.

Are Land Trusts Government Agencies?

No, they are independent, entrepreneurial organizations that work with landowners who are interested in protecting open space. But land trusts often work cooperatively with government agencies by acquiring or managing land, researching open space needs and priorities, or assisting in the development of open space plans.

What are the Advantages of Working with a Land Trust?

Land trusts are very closely tied to the communities in which they operate. Moreover, land trusts’ nonprofit tax status brings them a variety of tax benefits. Donations of land, conservation easements or money may qualify you for income, estate or gift tax savings. Moreover, because they are private organizations, land trusts can be more flexible and creative than public agencies – and can act more quickly – in saving land.

What Does a Land Trust Do?

Local and regional land trusts, organized as charitable organizations under federal tax laws, are directly involved in conserving land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historical and productive values. Land trusts can purchase land for permanent protection, or they may use one of several other methods: accept donations of land or the funds to purchase land, accept a bequest, or accept the donation of a conservation easement, which permanently limits the type and scope of development that can take place on the land. In some instances, land trusts also purchase conservation easements.

I First Heard About Land Trusts Just a Few Years Ago. Are They New?

Very few land trusts have already celebrated their centennials, but most are much younger. In 1950, for example, just 53 land trusts operated in 26 states. Today, more than 1,500 land trusts operate across the country, serving every state in the nation. The Northeast, home of the first land trust, still has the most land trusts – 558, according to Land Trust Alliance’s most recent survey.

What has Contributed to the Huge Growth in the Number of Land Trusts?

People are tremendously concerned about the unmitigated loss of open space in their own communities. They see subdivisions supplanting the open spaces where they once walked and hiked, and they want to know how they can gain the power to save the green spaces that make their communities unique, so they turn to land trusts as the local entities that have been set up to conserve land.

What are the Economic Impacts to my Community of Conserving Open Space?