Trails, Towns, and Trusts

Trail Rider - - SAVE THE TRAILS - BY DENISE Y. O’MEARA, RLA

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

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