Westwood Land Trust, Inc.

Westwood Land Trust, Inc., Westwood, MA

How the Westwood Land Trust Preserves
Open Space in Westwood

The Westwood Land Trust secures ownership, through gift or purchase, of important natural land or interests in land in order to protect important habitat or endangered plants and animals, and to help preserve the character of Westwood. This can be done though obtaining the land itself, or by obtaining the rights to develop the land through conservation easements.

Lowell Woods
The renaissance in land conservation efforts in Westwood began with the Lowell Woods, which were saved by the town in 1998.

Conservation easements are agreements with landowners that limit the type or amount of development on their property. Conservation easements allow the Westwood Land Trust to work with private land owners to prevent overdevelopment of fragile resources and to preserve scenic beauty and ecological integrity. Land protected by conservation easements is privately owned and not necessarily open to the public. Learn more about conservation easements by clicking here.

The Westwood Land Trust has a stewardship program which involves the monitoring of the Land Trust's conservation easements to ensure that the land entrusted to us remains protected.

Gifts of Land

Few more enduring legacies can be imagined than the protection of a natural landscape. The Westwood Land Trust accepts gifts of land which has special ecological, recreational, or scenic value. Donors of land may claim an income tax deduction based on the fair market value of the land at the time of the gift.

Leaving land to the Land Trust in your will allows you to retain full use and control of the land during your lifetime, yet ensures its care after you are gone. Because the gift must be formally accepted after your death, we urge you to share your plans with us in advance so that we may assure you that the gift meets our criteria for acceptance.

Sale and "Bargain Sale"

Land may be purchased for conservation purposes by various governmental units and by the Land Trust. Sales below market value ("bargain sales") involve the gift of a portion of the property's value by the donor. The value of the gifted portion can be deducted from the donor's federal income taxes. The Perry Campaign is based upon the bargain sale generously offered by the owners.

What If the Property is Too Valuable to Give Away?

Often a carefully planned conservation restriction (CR) can solve this problem by keeping the cost of the gift at manageable levels. Even when an owner decides that land must be sold for development, a CR on a portion of the property can prevent sprawl and reduce the impact on conservation values. The Westwood Land Trust would be glad to discuss options with the landowners and design a CR, if appropriate.

What about Deed Restrictions?

A land owner who depends upon deed restrictions to protect property will probably be disappointed. The most serious disadvantage to deed restrictions is that no third party can be designated to assume monitoring and enforcement responsibility. The law limits who can enforce the restrictions and for how long. For example, if you insert restrictions in your deed and then sell or give the land away without retaining land nearby, your restrictions may not be enforceable by you or your successors!

What Is the Difference Between a Gift of Land and a Conservation Restriction?

A gift of land transfers ownership and management responsibility to the conservation organization. A conservation restriction (CR) permanently limits development and protects conservation values of the property, but leaves ownership and management responsibilities in private hands. Learn more about conservation restrictions.

Explore your options

If you would like more information about your options as a landowner, or if you would like to arrange for the Westwood Land Trust to do a site visit and discuss land protection options. Contact us at information@westwoodlandtrust.org.

The Westwood Land Trust, Inc., is a charitable organization pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and all contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

All original material © 2003-2014
Westwood Land Trust, Inc.