Land trusts, like OCT, are local, regional, or statewide nonprofit conservation organizations directly involved in helping protect natural, scenic, recreational, agricultural, historic, or cultural property. Land trusts work to preserve open land that is important to the communities and regions where they operate. Land trusts respond rapidly to conservation needs and operate in urban, rural, and suburban areas.
OCT has many advantages as a vehicle for protecting land. We can hold and manage land and other assets as an organization, rather than through individuals. As a private organization we can be more flexible and creative and can generally act more quickly than government agencies, since we are not as restrained by politics and procedures. We are also able to negotiate with landowners discreetly, confidentially, and quickly.
Our nonprofit status brings our donors a variety of tax benefits. Donations of land, conservation easements [also called conservation restrictions], or money to land trusts may qualify donors for income, estate, or gift tax savings. Since OCT is a properly structured land trust, we are exempt from federal and state income taxes.
As a community-based organization, OCT is dependent on community resources, including volunteer time and skills. We are familiar with the land in the area and often have worked hard to gain the confidence and trust of local landowners who may not want to work with government agencies or entities from outside the community.
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(Source: The Land Trust Alliance. Starting a Land Trust: A Guide to Forming a Land Conservation Organization. Virginia: The Land Trust Alliance, 1990.)