Frequently Asked Questions

What is a land trust?

A private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to conserve land primarily through land acquisition or conservation easements. With land acquisition, the land trust becomes the owner of a property either by donation or purchase. In the case of protected land gained through conservation easements, the land owner maintains ownership, but adds restrictions to the use of and development of the land. In addition, the easement land owner provides stewardship of such land or easements. Through both land donation and easements, property owners express a desire to protect the land and all the benefits it provides.

Why is a land trust necessary?

Land trusts bring together landowners, donors, and sometimes public groups to cooperatively identify, protect, and manage unique lands that improve the health and beauty of our community, now and for generations to come. The focus of the New Canaan Land Trust is to preserve undeveloped open space, primarily as habitat for wildlife, but also for the enjoyment of people. Along with helping protect habitat, preserved open space helps improve water quality and clean the air, not to mention enhancing the scenic beauty and rustic charm that defines New Canaan. The Land Trust is committed to supporting a healthy community, today and into the future.

What do you do with your land?

In most cases, when land is donated or, more rarely, purchased by the New Canaan Land Trust, we are required by the deed to maintain the properties in their “wild and natural state”, allowing for access by the public and members of the Land Trust to experience and study these spaces. This requires the land trust to become responsible stewards of the land. With a focus on maintaining the “wild and natural state” of our properties, we pursue a light touch when it comes to influence what grows or doesn’t grow, lives or doesn’t live, on the properties. We are guided by our mission and by our focus on doing what is best for the community, taking a long-sighted vision to direct our actions.

Can I visit a land trust property?

Some of our properties are open to the public, and are listed in the “Visit a Property” tab of our website. Other properties are not open to the public becuase they sit on ecologically sensitive sites such as wetlands, have poor access, or are simply too small for us to create trails. A full list of visitation guidelines can also be found on our website.

Are you funded or supported by the town?

No. The Land Trust is a private non-profit corporation supported by our members. We are registered with the IRS as a 501(c)3 corporation, which means that donations to us, under most circumstances, are eligible for tax deductions. NCLT was founded in1967 by Jack Gunther while he was part of the New Canaan Conservation Commission. Mr. Gunther recognized that a private organization like a land trust, separate from the Town of New Canaan, would be better suited to act quickly to received land when owners decided to sell or sub-divide their property. Today, we continue to operate independently from the town, but do appreciate their support in advancing our mission of preserve local open space for all to enjoy.