Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Tecumseh Land Trust?
Tecumseh Land Trust is one of over 1,700 conservation land trusts in the United States. We were the first accredited land trust in Ohio, and there are only 130 accredited land trusts in the nation. Our mission is to assist land owners in finding ways to protect their valuable farm land and significant historic or natural sites. We have been in existence for 22 years, surpassed 500 members in 2002, and have protected more than 21,000 acres of land. We are a 501(c)(3) organization that serves Clark and Greene and surrounding counties. The OSU Extension Fact Sheet is another resource for more information about land trusts, or you can visit www.landtrustalliance.org
What is TLT's mission?
The Tecumseh Land Trust of Greene and Clark Counties is a private, not-for-profit conservation organization. Its purpose is to preserve agricultural land, open space in voluntary cooperation with landowners and their heirs for the benefit of future generations, and to educate the public about methods of private land conservation.
Why do you protect so much farmland?
Agriculture is Ohio's #1 industry; and the majority of our land is still available for farming. Every minute of every day America loses 2 acres of farmland to development. Working farmland preserves native plants and animals in its untillable niches. Well farmed land helps preserve good water quality. Farms provide open vistas which make residential areas more pleasant. Farms cost less in services than they bring in tax revenues. Agriculture is important in our culture and history and a vital piece of our local Yellow Springs economy.
How do you protect farmland?
We work primarily with landowners who can benefit from donating or selling conservation easements to the land trust. Donated value can provide substantial tax benefit. We also sometimes accept gifts of land. In which case we will place an easement on the land and then sell it. We use any profits to purchase easements on other property.
What exactly is a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is a condition or limitation attached to the deed for a property that essentially prevents future development. The easement agreement incorporates the permitted and restricted uses for the property in the future. A private organization, like a land trust, or a government unit can "hold" an easement. The value of an agricultural conservation easement is the difference between a property's development value and its agricultural value. Eased land can be bought and sold, but the conditions of the easement remain in place. View the OSU Extension Fact Sheet for more information about conservation easements.
What does it mean to hold an easement?
We develop the specific language of each easement agreement with the landowner. We document the specific conservation or historical values of a property with maps, photos, and descriptions, and attach the documentation to the easement. Once drafted and documented, the easement is signed by land trust officers and the landowner and recorded at the county court house. We monitor the properties on which we hold easements annually, and share our findings with the landowner. If eased land is sold, we orient the new land owner to the conditions of the easement.
What if Tecumseh Land Trust were no longer in business?
If we were to go out of business, our assets and responsibilities would be transferred to a similar organization; if a local land trust were not available, the national land trust organizations with which we are affiliated would be able to take this responsibility.
How are you funded? Do you get money from the Government?
We are supported by donations from members and charitable organizations. We do not get operational funding from the government. However, government units sometimes fund acquisition of specific properties or easements. We have a separate account specifically for monitoring and stewardship costs that is funded primarily by donations from landowners. Landowners also pay the costs of establishing the easements.
How do you decide what land is most important to protect?
We use a set of guidelines that prioritize lands that protect watersheds, contain important native plants and animals, or are of historic significance. We seek agricultural easements on properties that are viable for farming into the foreseeable future. We seek to preserve "blocks" of adjoining farms and open space as the most effective way of ensuring the preservation of viable agricultural land. Our aim is to permanently preserve 50,000 acres in each our two county area, comprised of "blocks" of primarily agricultural land.
What progress have you made with Clean Ohio?
Clean Ohio has created much interest in farmland and natural conservation. Over 200 landowners have expressed interest in the program, but not nearly enough funding is available to preserve all of their land. Land owners are willing to donate 50% of the value of easements on their properties. TLT has been able to protect over 11,000 acres through Clean Ohio and the Federal Farm and Ranch Protection Program, providing payment of over $13 million dollars directly to landowners for their development rights.
What can local government do to assist in land preservation?
Townships can develop a plan, identifying those areas most important to preserve and those most logical to develop and can designate agricultural or historical areas and zones. Townships, counties, and cities can set aside transfer fees, a percentage of sales tax, or other funding to purchase easements on key properties, or to use as match to leverage state or federal dollars. To get the right balance of development and preservation, they can evaluate costs and revenues of different land uses - residential, commercial/industrial, and agricultural.
What can individuals do to assist in land preservation?
Join the land trust, contribute, and volunteer. Consider donation or sale of an easement or an estate gift as a part of your own financial planning. Talk to your neighbors about joining the land trust or preserving their land. Tell public officials and candidates that this is an issue you are concerned about. Let state and federal candidates know you're concerned about getting and keeping funding in place for easement purchase and opening the option in Ohio to transfer development rights.