Trails, Towns, and Trusts
WWhen you trail ride, you’re likely riding on land owned by another, whether by the government (public) or a private party. Forests, grazing lands, parks, conservation zones, and urban greenways are part of the mix. These properties might be targeted for development at any time, resulting in loss of access.
One way to help preserve trails for equine use is through land trusts. The more you know about land trusts, the better you can help preserve your treasured trails.
About Land Trusts
Land trusts are nonprofit organizations that administer conservation easements and purchase land for conservation. Conservation easements are legal agreements between a landowner and a land trust (or government agency) specifying that the landowner will donate or sell his or her property’s future development for conservation purposes.
The land must present some benefit to the public, and the owner retains the right to carry on his or her normal activities. Donating rights can give the property owner tax benefits, while sold rights provide immediate funds. The land trust enforces the property owner’s promise not to develop the land. A land trust might also purchase land outright.
Land trusts focus on a particular type of land or activity, such as ecologically sensitive lands, farmland, natural resources, or cultural/ historic resources. Some focus on equine uses. This focus is the trust’s mission.
Land trusts derive funding from monetary donations and grants. Some trusts receive assistance through government funding.
Through legislation, local or state governments can support and fund land-con- servation programs. These usually have an economic, agricultural, ecological, or cultural focus that benefits the public.
Land Trust Partnerships
Land trusts partner with landowners, government agencies, and other land trusts to fulfill their missions. These partnerships provide opportunities for you to work with knowledgeable organizations and agencies to protect equestrian land, trails, and facilities. Here are examples of land trust partners. • Conservation commissions. Conservation commissions implement the federal Wetland and Rivers Protection Acts, which provides an opportunity to focus on natural resources, open space, and opportunities for recreation. Written policies may include equestrian-centered activities.
The Weston, Massachusetts, Conservation Commission, which oversees 2,000 acres of conserved land, has policy language allowing horseback riding on their trails, along with regulations for use of existing riding rings and other equine facilities.
The more you know about land trusts, the better you can help preserve your treasured trails.
One way to help preserve trails for equine use is through land trusts. Here’s what you need to know and how to get involved.
Trails on conserved land are becoming increasingly important to equestrians. PHOTO COUTRESY OF THE ELCR