Conservation Strategies for Land Trusts

Beginning with Habitat can help land trusts identify important habitats for conservation and provide maps and other spatial data for planning, grant applications, and presentations.

Fold BwH Into Strategic Conservation Plans

  • Take an inventory.
    Inventory all land trust and public lands in your service area, including those that have conservation potential but aren’t designated as such, and review the management plans for those properties.
  • Work with your local Conservation Commission to develop an Open Space Plan for your service area.
    Work with your local Conservation Commission to inventory local parcels that could, when combined with other private or public lands, create large habitat blocks. If you don’t have a Conservation Commission, form one. They can help implement your area’s Open Space Plan and actively manage open space.
  • Explore Maine’s Wildlife Action Plan.
    Work with BwH staff to determine how your project addresses at-risk species and habitats in Maine’s 2015-2025 State Wildlife Action Plan.
  • Explore Maine’s Focus Areas of Statewide Ecological Significance.
    Maine’s 140 Focus Areas contain the richest concentrations of wildlife and habitat resources in the state. Certain grant programs may award additional points for projects within Focus Areas. 
  • Explore BwH’s Landscape Planning Map (Map 3).
    Whether or not your project or service area falls within a Focus Area, your project may still conserve a connected landscape, support rare species, or provide important open space opportunities such as hunting and hiking. BwH’s Landscape Planning resources can help you identify how your project relates to other parcels, supports wildlife movement, and helps provide landscape resiliency in a changing climate.
  • Identify and leverage opportunities and funding sources. 
    Coordinate land trust priorities with town and state priorities, and explore opportunities to protect habitat via conservation easement or fee ownership. You can raise acquisition funds through fundraising campaigns or apply to private or public funding sources. Maine provides several statewide funding programs including the Maine Natural Resources Conservation ProgramMaine Outdoor Heritage Fund, and the Land For Maine's Future Program. The US Fish & Wildlife Service also administers some Federal funds through its Gulf of Maine Coastal Program. Private organizations with funds include the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and The Nature Conservancy (ask about private land trust protection efforts). The Sportsman's Alliance of Maine also has a trust to own and manage high value game habitat.
  • Know your options. 
    Conservation can be achieved several ways. Please visit the Maine Land Trust Network for more information on the strategies below:
    • Fee ownership. If a property with high-value habitat is on the market, especially if it is not adequately protected through zoning, your land trust can work with the town’s select board, planning board, and conservation commission to purchase it. If it’s not on the market, you could consider buying a right of first refusal.
    • Development rights. These can allow you to manage large undeveloped blocks as fish, plant, and wildlife habitat.
    • Conservation easements. These can stipulate no development and allow public access for recreation if compatible with the land.