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Interested in Seeing Your Land Conserved?

Julia McLeod
May 31, 2022

When Lands & Stewardship Director Reed Coles talks with people interested in exploring conservation of their land, what comes through most strongly is their deep connection with a piece of property. They seek out conservation “because they love the land,” Reed says.

This love of the land leads them to strive to ensure that it will stay natural for generations into the future. It really is an incredible legacy to leave for our community – to set aside natural areas to protect clean water, wildlife habitat, scenic views, and rural character.

Permanently conserved land in Harpswell now comprises about 16 percent of our land base and less than one percent of our assessed property value. Five percent of this conserved land is on offshore islands, with the remaining 11 percent on land connected by roads. There’s still considerable room for growth to come close to the 30 percent in conserved land cited by experts as needed to protect critical wildlife habitat and biodiversity.

We understand connection to nature. Land has the capacity to simultaneously present us with the comfort of continuity and the excitement of new surprises. A piece of land can feel small, and it can connect us to a system that is so much bigger than ourselves. Each season brings us new discoveries.

It’s important to note that Harpswell Heritage Land Trust’s (HHLT) land conservation efforts are always voluntary. We are a collaborative partner working with local people to make their vision for the future come true. When a landowner approaches us to talk about conserving their land, we first listen to their goals. There are several ways to structure land conservation, and which makes the most sense depends on the owner’s goals and vision.

For landowners who would like to maintain ownership of their land but ensure that it stays in a natural state, a conservation easement is a great tool. The easement limits certain uses of that land forever. The land trust’s responsibilities are to monitor and uphold that easement. The terms of easement vary, so if landowners want to carve out an area for a future house or to allow agriculture or forest management, those terms can be written into the easement.

For other landowners, donating or selling the land makes more sense. It is in some ways simpler and other ways more complicated. For any purchase, HHLT has to carefully consider the benefits of conservation against the resources needed to complete the deal. Raising money is a big commitment for a small nonprofit, even though we have achieved great success in individual fundraising and grant applications in the past, and have successfully completed every campaign we have embarked on.

Whatever your specific goals and circumstance, If you find yourself hoping to ensure that your land stays wild for Harpswell’s natural and human communities, please reach out so we can start the conversation!