What is a Land Trust?

Maine has over 80 land trusts that provide countless benefits to communities in every corner of the state.

Continually evolving, these charitable organizations meet the needs of Maine people in many ways: places to get outdoors, economic opportunities, locally grown food, clean water, protected wildlife habitat, and educational offerings for people of all ages. In short, Maine land trusts make the state a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

Working with willing landowners to conserve land for the public

Land trusts are conservation organizations that achieve their missions by working with willing property owners, including those who want to know that the family land they have come to love is responsibly managed forever. In exchange, land trusts oversee the properties in their care according to the highest standards and in furtherance of public values such as water quality, sustainable forests, healthy ecosystems, productive farmlands, and welcoming nature trails.

Serving their communities in a variety of ways

Beyond acquiring and managing conserved areas, land trusts do so much more. For example, many offer environmental education programs in coordination with local schools, some act as a convener to bring together community partners to accomplish restoration projects, and others hold workshops and forums for information on subjects like climate change. These roles and initiatives shift over time, adapting to public needs and evolving issues.

While working on unique missions for their specific service areas, Maine’s land trusts also collaborate, share ideas, and promote best practices through the Maine Land Trust Network. And often, land trusts partner on projects of mutual interest within a region or statewide.

Board led independent, private charitable corporations

Land trusts, like most nonprofits, are led by a board of directors — volunteer community leaders who set the organization’s direction. Some have staff who implement the day-to-day activities, while others accomplish their work through the dedication of volunteers. Most land trusts have active members who clear trails, raise funds, and perform community outreach.

Land trusts receive funding from a variety of sources including charitable donations from individuals, families, and local businesses. Many also apply for grants from private foundations. Some receive support from public grant programs such as Land for Maine’s Future, a citizen-approved bond program that helps conserve Maine land.