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The Trustees of Reservations

Monday, January 9, 2012

Number One Private Holder of CR Acreage Statewide!

The National Conservation Easement Database (NCED) is an exciting new initiative.  It is the first national database of Conservation Easement information - an effort by five leading private organizations with three federal agencies, to provide the best available information from both public and private agencies who hold Conservation Easements (CEs).*  This information, largely coming from private organizations, has historically been very difficult, if not nearly impossible, to access.  We were very excited to look at the NCED results for Massachusetts published last year, and easily compare where The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) stands statewide relative to other public and private organizations in terms of CR acreage protected.  Here are the top 20!

*N.B.- As you may well know, Massachusetts is the only state to use the term 'Conservation Restrictions' (CRs) - one and the same as 'Conservation Easements!' (CEs)

After the three public state agencies listed at the top, TTOR came in fourth - and first among private conservation organizations!  While we recognize our uniquely large organizational size, capacity, and statewide scope as factors in this success, we feel this is also a great testament to the partnerships we build.  These are with a variety of partners - from conservation-minded private landowners of course, to city and town governments, other land trusts, and even reaches the federal level with a CR negotiated under the USDA Forest Legacy Program.   

It is also a testament to the hard work of our professional land conservation staff around the state.  These busy and creative folks identify projects and work diligently to ensure each conservation real estate transaction - from negotiating new CRs, to receiving outright land donations, to purchases, and assists to municipalities and other land trusts - comes to fruition and proceeds with professional standards of due diligence.  For CR properties, staff then conducts stewardship through annual monitoring visits.  During these visits, we meet with landowners to discuss property management, document conservation values and conditions of the property, and identify possible encroachments or violations which may go against the CR terms.  These visits occur annually for each and every CR, per Land Trust Alliance Standards

We also noted that NCED does not yet list approximately 1,500 more acres encumbered by our CRs.  Our latest calculations put us at over 350 individual parcels, which encompass more than 19,000 acres!  From Greater Boston to the Berkshires, from the Cape and Islands to the Pioneer Valley and Hilltowns, our CRs are very likely near you, successfully protecting many lesser-known 'Special Places' beyond our well-known Reservations.  Though mostly inaccessible to the public, these privately protected properties contribute incalculably to the integrity of Massachusetts' rich habitats, history, agricultural lands, and scenic landscapes.

 - Andrew Bentley, CR Stewardship Assistant

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