Since its founding in 1996, the Hunterdon Land Trust has helped preserve about 7,800 acres of Hunterdon County farmland and open space. Land preservation and stewardship are the cornerstones of our mission.
The mission of the Hunterdon Land Trust is to preserve and protect the rural character of Hunterdon County. We employ a variety of methods to achieve this goal, but none is more powerful than our land preservation program.
Preservation is based on a simple idea – that the most direct way to protect land is to acquire an ownership interest in it. In some cases, the Land Trust purchases property outright. This is called a “fee simple” transaction. In other cases, we buy only the development rights, or an easement, which limits the property to specific uses such as farming or public parkland.
We work only with landowners who are willing to sell or donate real estate. Once a property is preserved, it is protected forever.
Funding for land acquisitions comes from government grants and occasionally from private foundations or donors. In most cases, the Land Trust enters into cost-sharing arrangements with some combination of federal, state, county and municipal agencies as well as other nonprofit organizations. Working with several partners leverages more funding for our preservation program and results in the protection of more farms and natural areas.
We are fortunate in New Jersey to have sources of open space and farmland preservation funding through the Garden State Preservation Trust as well as municipal and county preservation trust funds. These funding sources have been consistently approved by voters in state and county ballot questions.
Because funding is limited, the Land Trust has developed preservation criteria designed to evaluate a project’s conservation value. In 2011 the Hunterdon Land Trust also completed a strategic countywide conservation plan that identifies target areas where we will concentrate our resources and secondary areas where we will support the efforts of other organizations.