It's About the Land 1-28-2011

Totoket Times, January 28, 2011 

It's About The Land 

Trust-it is a word we hear, use and see in writing every day in the context of personal and legal relationships. It describes an element of our human nature; our reliance on others to do what is right on our behalf when it is inconvenient or impossible for us to act in our own best interest. So how does an or­ ganization such as a Land Trust fit into the relation­ship of individuals, community and government? 

A land trust is a private legal entity empowered by law to purchase, receive by gift, hold and maintain parcels of land or specific rights in land such as an easement for the conservation of natural re­sources. A land trust has no legal affiliation with government agencies and does not possess powers of condemnation or taxation. Most land trusts have by­laws with provisions for a board of directors who elect officers to conduct the day to day affairs of the organization. A land trust needs people to run the organization and to care for the land supported by dues paying members such as private citizens and businesses. 

North Branford Land Conservation Trust, throughout its existence, has been an all-volunteer or­ ganization. There is no paid staff to attend to its affairs. Since its founding, NBLCT has received do ens of small parcels of land and been entrusted with the care and maintenance of them. Over two hundred acres are held by NBLCT in North Branford. While two hundred acres is small compared with the acreage held by land trusts in Branford, Guilford and Madison, maintaining small, diverse parcels is just as challenging. Parcel boundaries need to be checked at least once every two to three years for inadvertent encroachment by neighbors who may be unaware that the land is held by NBLCT. There may be incidents ofunauthorized use such as ATV's and dirt bikes operating on the land, unauthorized tree cutting, dumping of household waste items, tires and appliances, along public road frontage. Usually NBLCT is made aware of such problems from complaints by neighbors. From time to time, parcels are offered as a gift either by a developer to satisfy a zoning requirement or by a landowner who is interested in having the natural condition ofhis/her property conserved and protected as a legacy of their stewardship. NBLCT's preference is to encourage donations ofland that may be lost to development, especially parcels and larger tracts with outstanding natural qualities and potential for establishing passive use trails. Donations of land are rare. While NBLCT does not have the financial resources to compete with developers, it may partner with other organizations interested in protecting land that will further the town's plan of open space and development. 

We were pleasantly surprised by the number of people who attended our January 5th meeting at the Atwater Library, the questions they asked and the interest shown in getting NBLCT back on track. We are always seeking new members-all you have to do is come to our next meeting. Our goal is to re-establish the land trust as an active land conservation organization within our community. Our next meeting will be Tuesday, February 8, 7 pm at the Atwater Library. Hope to see you there 


Otto Schaefer, Acting President