Frequently asked questions about the Burrillville Land Trust

What is a land trust?

A land trust is a private, nonprofit organization that actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land acquisition or conservation easement acquisition, or by its stewardship of such land or easements. Land trusts have been in existence since 1891. However, it is only in the last three decades that land trusts began to proliferate, and they now form one of the fastest-growing and most successful conservation movements in American history. In Rhode Island, there are over 45 land trusts. About 18 of them are “municipal” land trusts, meaning land trusts organized, funded and staffed by the town or municipal government in which they reside. The rest are private land trusts, like the Burrillville Land Trust.

What is the Burrillville Land Trust and what is our mission?

The Burrillville Land Trust is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit private land trust in the Town of Burrillville. We were established in 2001 to maintain the rural character of our town. Private citizens, the town and statewide agencies all recognize that a private land trust can keep land in its natural state more so than a municipal land trust where land development is pressured by political, financial or short term needs. Our mission is to preserve and protect the rural character of the Town of Burrillville. By purchasing land outright, receiving donations or through conservation easements, the land trust acquires land and then preserves and protects the land from development. Once the land is held in a land trust, the land is managed and stays in a natural state, forever.

What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement is a legal agreement, similar to a contract between a landowner and a qualified organization such as a land trust. The conservation easement, like all easements, restricts future activities on the land to protect the land’s conservation values while also allowing the landowner to continue owning the land. The landowner still owns the property and is able to sell the property, deed the property or modify the property according to the tenets of the conservation easement. The land trust holds one conservation easement on 11.5 acres.

What is the benefit to the town and the residents of Burrillville?

Land trusts conserve property that town’s people readily recognize. Once a property is protected, the land remains free of development. There are tax benefits as well. Studies have proven that municipal governments pay more for municipal services than is taken in through residential taxes. It makes sense. Land that is free from development costs less to maintain than land that is designed for residential development. There is also the benefit of monitoring, managing and keeping the town rural. As a land trust, our membership regularly walks our property or drives by to check on the land that the land trust owns.

Can the landowner who conserves their land realize any tax advantages?

Yes, a landowner who donates a conservation easement or land to a land trust, and meets certain criteria, may realize income tax benefits, property tax benefits and/or estate tax benefits. But before deciding if land conservation is in your best interest, always check with your legal and tax advisors.

What kind of land is the Burrillville Land Trust looking for?

First and foremost, we want to meet you and talk to you about your property. Landowners have different needs when it comes to deciding what to do with their land. Some want to sell for economic reasons, some want to donate their property for estate planning or to end paying taxes, and some want to memorialize their parents, a loved one or a good friend. The Burrillville Land Trust seeks out landowners who are willing to work with a land trust for the preservation of their property. When it comes to the land, the Burrillville Land Trust works to conserve lands in town that has specific conservation values: helping to maintain working farmland, or agricultural values, enhancing water resources, maintaining or improving wildlife habitats, maintaining or improving scenic vistas and more that benefit a neighborhood, a community and our town.

Is the land trust property available for public use?

Our land is only open to our members and during guided hikes and events. The Burrillville Land Trust has conducted bird walks, yoga classes, snowshoeing events, cemetery walks on our properties. Our goal is to make all trust property available to the public for passive recreational walks and hikes and to link our property with town, state and private open space land.

What does the land trust own?

The land trust owns properties in fee simple arrangement totaling 214.52 acres. The land trust also holds one conservation easement on an 11.5 acre property.

What is the source of funding for the Trust?

All of our funds come from grants from foundations, membership dues and fund raising activities.

Do other towns have land trusts?

Within Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns, there are over 45 land trusts. 18 of those are municipal land trusts directly connected to the town they represent. The rest are private non-profit land trust. The Burrillville Land Trust is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit land trust. We are not connected with the Town of Burrillville but enjoy a good working relationship with the Town and all of its Departments.

Volunteer opportunities?

We hope that you consider joining the Burrillville Land Trust or keep us in mind in your estate planning process. Volunteers help the Burrillville Land Trust accomplish its mission. We actively seek out all volunteers who can attend our monthly meetings, take part in our special events, help create and maintain our trails and take an active role in other activities. If you want to make a difference in the town where you live, we want you.

Monthly meetings

Our meetings take place the 2nd Monday of each month and are held at the Community Room at the Jessis Smith Library in Harrisville, Rhode Island 02830. Our meetings take place from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. We welcome visitors to our meetings. Just let us know ahead of time that you are coming so we can expect you. Call Paul A. Roselli at (401) 447-1560 or write info@burrillvillelandtrust.org.

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