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What is a land trust?
A land trust is a private, nonprofit organization with a specific mission to conserve land and its resources. The Hunterdon Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. Land trusts follow strict state and federal guidelines to organize and operate as nonprofit, tax-exempt, charitable corporations in order to provide tax benefits to its donors.
Landowners may choose to work with a land trust when they wish to permanently protect the ecological, agricultural, scenic, historic, and recreational qualities of their land from development. The Hunterdon Land Trust works with landowners to identify the best preservation option available to meet their conservation ideals and financial needs.
When the conservation transaction is complete, the land trust may own the property outright, or hold a conservation easement on the property that restricts development of the property in perpetuity. In the case of a conservation easement, the property is still held privately by the owner. As an owner of property and conservation easements, the Hunterdon Land Trust is the permanent steward of the land, responsible for ensuring that the properties under its stewardship remain undeveloped and that their natural resources are protected.
Where is Hunterdon County?
Located within the Piedmont and Highlands regions of west central New Jersey, Hunterdon County boasts a beautiful and productive rural landscape. This landscape is characterized by picturesque farmsteads, historic villages, winding streams, gently rolling hills and steep, wooded terrain.
What makes Hunterdon County so special?
Hunterdon County’s long-standing agricultural heritage remains a dominant feature to this day. It has the largest number of farms in the state and ranks second in the amount of land enrolled in farmland assessment. Its agricultural base is diverse. There are still traditional farming operations, including dairy, hay and corn. However, the county is witnessing changes in farming, as horses and high value/specialty crops and animals become more prevalent.
In addition to having a productive agricultural base, Hunterdon is rich in natural resources. Groundwater is the primary source of potable water for county residents; thus the need to maintain a clean and adequate supply is essential. However, surface water is equally important. Two reservoirs and a canal, located in the county, provide 225 million gallons a day of water for 1.5 million people in New Jersey. Many trout streams traverse the county, eventually draining into the Raritan, Delaware or Musconetcong rivers. Numerous state- and federally-listed endangered and threatened plants and animals are known to occur in Hunterdon County as well.
According to the 2010 census, approximately 128,349 people resided in the county. Despite this rather modest population base, it is the third fastest-growing county statewide. The Hunterdon County Planning Board projects another 23-percent increase over the next 20 years. As suburban development continues to encroach upon the County’s rural landscape, critical natural, scenic and agricultural resources must be protected not only for the benefit of Hunterdon County residents, but also for citizens throughout New Jersey. The Hunterdon Land Trust was created to help fulfill this mission.
How is the Hunterdon Land Trust funded?
Funding for the Land Trust’s operating expenses, including personnel, utilities, insurance, office supplies and other costs related to the organization’s day-to-day functioning, comes from private foundations, individual donors, and corporate supporters. Funding for land preservation projects comes mostly from government agencies such as the NJDEP Green Acres Program, NJ State Agriculture Development Committee, Hunterdon County Open Space Trust Fund Program, Federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, and municipal governments throughout Hunterdon County. Landowners seeking to preserve their land often donate part or all of their property’s value, and private foundations and individuals occasionally contribute to the cost of land acquisition.
How do I make a donation?
You can use a credit card at our donation page, or, if you prefer, call us at 908-237-4582 and make a donation over the phone. Alternatively, checks can be mailed to the Hunterdon Land Trust at 111 Mine Street, Flemington, NJ 08822.
Does the Land Trust need volunteers?
We sure do. Volunteer opportunities range from outdoor jobs like building trails, planting trees and working at our farmers’ market to indoor tasks like helping with mailings and organizing events. Contact Judy Wilson (908-237-4582; email@example.com) for more information.