Working Forest Conservation
For 40 years, we have worked with families, towns, the state, and businesses to protect nearly 400,000 acres of forestland from being broken up and developed.
Forestland Conservation Overview
We protect both large blocks of forest that help our forest economy and smaller forests—including family-owned woodland, town forests, and parkland.
We use a legal document called a conservation easement. This document limits development and subdivision and protects forestland for wildlife, timber, nature, recreation, and/or water quality. Owners of conserved land manage the land and pay property taxes.
Funding for forest conservation is limited. Most is conserved by generous landowners who donate conservation easements. Sometimes we can purchase easements on large parcels with good timber resources and wildlife habitat, or on land open to public.
Small-scale Family Forestland
We work with families to conserve woodland—generally of 50 acres or more—through the donation of a conservation easement.
Conservation easements are tied to the land, whether the land is sold or remains in the family, so you can be assured that the property you cared for is protected, even when you no longer own it.
There are both costs and tax benefits associated with donating an easement. In some cases, such as when land is in an area important for conservation, we can offset some costs. Please see our easement donation page to learn more.
While land of 1,000 acres or more is often protected by a donated conservation easement, funding is sometimes found to buy these easements or offset costs.
Properties in areas important for conservation, that offer quality recreation to the public, and that have been well managed are the most likely to get funding. Forests smaller than 1,000 acres that adjoin protected land may also get funding because stopping forests from being broken up is important for both timber and nature.
Money for large-scale forest protection is most often available through the federal Forest Legacy Program. This national grant program is very competitive, and the process can take several years.
Most forest conservation funders require the landowner to sell the conservation easement for less than its full value. In these cases, the donated portion of the easement can be a tax benefit. Please see our easement donation page for more information on taxes.
If funds for buying a conservation easement aren’t available, there are sources that can help offset some of the costs of donating an easement. These costs include a contribution to our stewardship endowment, which is money we set aside to make sure conservation protections are followed for generations to come.
If you are interested in conserving a large forested parcel, please contact one of our Regional Directors to learn more.
Forestland for Public Use
We have enjoyed working with many towns, cities, agencies, volunteers, and nonprofits to protect forests for the public. This land includes town forests and municipal and state parks.
Examples of these types of projects are:
- Town forests in over 20 Vermont towns;
- The addition of 2,000 acres to the Mount Mansfield State Forest (including the Bolton Valley backcountry and Nordic ski trails) and;
- The purchase and conservation of 138 acres that are home to some of the Kingdom Trail Association’s best mountain biking trails.
These projects often involve buying land and require fundraising campaigns, in addition to finding grants. See our community conservation page to learn more.
Interested in conserving your land?
Contact one of our conservation staff members.