We all need to preserve land in our towns for all to enjoy in the future. But where’s the money coming from to buy the land?
Here are a few suggestions.
- Some people or families will donate land in order to save on taxes and preserve a view or a special place. I know several who have done this in an area where the land is very expensive. Perhaps you own land you would like to donate or have friends who do.
- Work with your local land trust. These are scattered across Maine. Here, we have Great Works Land Trust that has preserved land in Ogunquit, Wells, North and South Berwick. There is another land trust in York, in Kittery, in Kennebunk and in Kennebunkport, to name those near us.
Land Trusts often have more people than you might have in your group, or, in our case, our conservation commission, more donors, and occasionally receive grants for land purchases.
- Go to a Select Board meeting and present your case when it’s time for the coming year’s town budget to be discussed. You might want to ask that a certain amount – say, $25,000 – be set aside for conservation land purchases.
- Next time your town charter comes up for review, suggest that a conservation land fund with a certain amount of money be set aside each year.
- If there is land that is offered for conservation purposes and you have to meet the cost, if there is one, go to your select board and ask for the money needed. If they refuse, try to get enough signatures to put it on the ballot. You can look for signatures at your post office, especially Saturday morning, or at your transfer station. Make sure you have done everything you need to meet your town’s requirements for a legal petition. Check this out before you start with your town clerk.
In order to convince your town that more conservation land is needed, you might want to make sure conservation land already purchased is available for use. Recently our town, with help from the conservation commission’s land fund, bought a woodsy piece of land. Our next step will be to blaze trails for hiking and snow shoeing or cross county skiing in the winter to make it easier for all to use.
Land set aside for conservation use serves not only as a place where all can go, but also preserves habitat and acts as a sponge to help replenish our aquifers.