[acc title=”What is a land trust?”]
Land trusts, or land conservancies, are charitable organizations which are legally empowered to protect lands worthy of long term conservation. The Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) focuses on lands with significant ecological value. Land trusts can accept donations and bequests of land and in some cases may purchase land. We can also enter into conservation easement agreements with private landowners. Through these measures land is permanently protected to preserve its conservation values.
[/acc][acc title=”Are land trusts government agencies?”]
No, they are independent, non-profit organizations that work with private landowners who are interested in protecting nature. There are no political appointments to the Board and the land trust operates at arm’s length with all levels of government or government agencies.
[/acc][acc title=”Where do you get your money?”]
MMLT is supported with memberships and donations from generous residents in the community we serve. As a charitable organization, we may also apply for grants for special projects.
[/acc][acc title=”What do you do with the money?”]
Some of the background work required to operate a land trust involves:
- comprehensive ecological assessment of each property of interest;
- preparation of extensive documentation and maps which will hold up legally;
- ongoing expenses including legal fees, appraisal costs, property taxes and insurance;
- ongoing property monitoring and stewardship;
- legislated reporting to the Canada Revenue Agency and Industry Canada;
- donor database management, issuance of charitable receipts and liaison with members;
- financial management and the required cost of annual audits;
- event planning and program management;
- preparation of publicity materials and website maintenance;
- publication of news and events to mailing list and local newspapers;
- volunteer solicitation and engagement;
- grant writing and reporting; application to government tax incentive programs.
[/acc][acc title=”What area do you cover?”]
MMLT’s catchment area is within the Mississippi River and lower Madawaska River watersheds, west of Ottawa. This area covers 560,000 hectares or 5,600 sq. km.
[/acc][acc title=”How do you get your properties?”]
In most cases generous citizens will donate lands to us because they wish to see conservation values protected for future generations to enjoy. Sometimes a land trust is enabled to purchase lands important to the community using funds donated by local residents, corporations and foundations. MMLT currently owns four properties totalling 3,337 acres.
[/acc][acc title=”What is a conservation easement agreement?”]
A conservation easement agreement is a legal agreement between a land owner and a land trust which is placed on the property title for 999 years (renewable). The landowner continues to own and may live on the land and the property can be sold or passed on to future generations. Future development of the land is restricted by the covenants described within the agreement. MMLT currently holds three conservation easement agreements totalling 1880 acres of land.
[/acc][acc title=”What do you do with your protected properties?”]
MMLT conducts the following activities on its protected properties:
- species inventories
- nature restoration activities
- invasive species removal
- nature education activities
- engagement of volunteers to assist with activities
- annual monitoring of covenants on conservation easements
[/acc][acc title=”Is your board compensated financially?”]
No, the MMLT board is a volunteer working board.
[/acc][acc title=”Do you have staff?”]
We have one part-time employee. We hire contractors from time to time for special projects and when funding permits. We are fortunate to have the help of many volunteers who assist in a variety of ways.
[/acc][acc title=”Do you support other local environmental causes?”]
MMLT has close partnerships with many other environmental groups who work together on various projects. However, as a charitable organization we must avoid lobbying and other political activities. Instead, we prefer to use our position in the community as an advisor, educator or an advocate for nature protection.