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Getting Started

Farmhouse and field

Carefully reviewing your family’s desires and circumstances will help you to select the most appropriate means of conservation. Photo: MCHT

As you look to the future, questions may arise concerning the fate of your property. What will happen to the land? Will your heirs be able to maintain it? Will it remain undeveloped? Will others be able to share in its beauty?

One answer should become clear: if you care about your land and want to pass it on to the next generation, you need to protect it.

This book will help you determine which method or combination of conservation techniques is best suited to your situation. Begin by clarifying the following:

  • your land conservation goals;
  • your family’s needs and wishes;
  • your property’s special features; and
  • your financial situation.

Which conservation method you choose will depend not only on your vision for the land but on its notable features. If your land provides rare habitat, for example, you may want to consider a highly protective conservation plan; whereas on a working farm, forest or homestead, you may want to encourage traditional uses. There are numerous publications and governmental studies that can help you to identify your land’s specific natural and cultural values: consult with a conservation organization for help locating appropriate resources (Appendix E contains a list of relevant organizations and agencies).

A conservation strategy tailored to the landowners’ needs and their property’s special features may draw on one or more techniques found on this site. For example, a conservation easement can be used to complement a bargain sale (at a price below fair market value) or a land donation. Combining techniques provides greater flexibility but may make transactions more complex, requiring the skills of experienced advisors. Depending on your particular situation, you may need the services of an appraiser, surveyor, land use planner or accountant. Appendix A provides advice on working with these professionals.

As you plan for your property’s future, you will want to consult an attorney and a nonprofit land trust (for a current listing, visit www.mltn.org or call 207-729-7366). A local land trust or statewide conservation organization such as Maine Coast Heritage Trust can help you review options and locate the resources needed to protect your land.

As you read through the site, you will notice that some words appear in italics. These terms, some of which may not be familiar, are defined in a Glossary (Appendix G).