Gifts of cash, including membership contributions, are fully deductible.

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What is The Middlebury Land Trust?

The Middlebury Land Trust, Inc. is a Connecticut non-profit membership corporation organized in 1969 by concerned residents of Middlebury to help preserve the Town’s natural areas for future generations.

What are The Middlebury Land Trust’s Goals?

The primary objective of Middlebury Land Trust is to acquire and preserve land or conservation easements by gift or purchase to be held in perpetuity as open space in order to maintain and preserve a healthy, attractive and balanced environment for living in the Town of Middlebury. It thus seeks to preserve those natural areas, including forests, meadows, swamps, marshes, ponds and streams which contribute to and enhance the rural nature of the Town. In this capacity it makes itself available to the Town of Middlebury to assist in implementing the Town Plan of Development.

Who Makes Up The Organization?

Any individual interested in preserving what is left of our beautiful and interesting rural landscape in Middlebury may join. In 2001, there were more than 300 members. Middlebury Land Trust has a Board of Directors consisting of eighteen concerned citizens.

How is Middlebury Land Trust Supported Financially?

The Middlebury Land Trust’s entirely dependent for its continuing operation upon gifts from individuals and membership dues. Today, as the acreage for which it is responsible increases and the need for administering its use and enjoyment grows, Middlebury Land Trust finds itself needing much greater financial support than in the past. It continues to build its endowment fund to provide future income to support its land management programs.

How Does Middlebury Land Trust Acquire Natural Areas?

In one of two ways: by gift or by purchase. Gifts of land may be received either by deed or by legacy from the owner. There is considerable flexibility on the part of Middlebury Land Trust in accommodating the requirements of the Donor with respect to the type of interest the Donor may wish to give. Thus, in addition to an out-right conveyance of land, a Donor may convey partial interests in land over a period of years (for example, an undivided one-tenth per year), or reserve the right to live on or use the land for the remainder of his or her life, or may convey a conservation easement. In granting a conservation easement, the Donor gives up only his or her development rights in the land. The Donor retains all other property rights, including the freedom to use the land and enjoy it in any way that is consistent with its open and natural character.

May the Donor of Land Enjoy Life Occupancy?

Yes. The Donor, his or her spouse and even their children, may continue to live on the land for their lives provided they agree not to abuse the land in any way which would harm its natural qualities. Thus, a Donor could continue to farm the land or to harvest dead or dying trees. Natural areas may be named after the Donor or given a name by the Donor.

Are Gifts to Middlebury Land Trust Tax Deductible?

Gifts of cash, including membership contributions, are fully deductible since Middlebury Land Trust is a publicly supported charity and not a private foundation. Gifts of land or securities are also deductible, subject to the application limitations on gifts of appreciated property. If in any year a Donor’s total gifts exceed the Donor’s deduction ceilings, the excess gifts may be carried forward to a maximum of five subsequent years. Commencing in 1993, the alternative minimum tax no longer applies to gifts of appreciated property to public charities like the Middlebury Land Trust. The tax laws are complex and therefore when making a gift you should consult your tax attorney.

What is the First Step for an Individual Wishing to Make a Gift of Land?

A letter should be sent to the President of Middlebury Land Trust, Inc., Box 193, Middlebury, CT 06762, or an e-mail sent to middleburylandtrust@gmail.com. The letter should locate the property and indicate briefly its natural characteristics. A representative of Middlebury Land Trust will then call upon the individual to discuss how best to carry out his or her wishes.

Is There Any Limitation on Acceptance of Properties?

There are no restrictions upon size or location, except that Middlebury Land Trust may decline to accept a property that has already been disturbed and ravaged beyond reclamation, is polluted, is too costly to maintain or is otherwise not suitable to hold.

Once Acquired, How are Natural Areas Used?

The Middlebury Land Trust maintains its areas so that the natural character of the land endures. All Middlebury Land Trust properties are available for responsible use by local residents, subject to posted restrictions. These restrictions prohibit camping, hunting, trapping, fishing, fires and the use of power vehicles. Plants and wildlife may not be removed or destroyed. Thus, nondestructive uses such as hiking, horseback riding and nature photography are permitted. In addition, scientific research and outdoor educational projects by local schools, colleges and youth organizations are encouraged.

How Are Natural Areas Protected?

The Middlebury Land Trust contracts with a part-time warden who does an excellent job patrolling its properties, preventing vandalism, emptying trash barrels and performing maintenance work and minor repairs. A Preserve Management Committee oversees the care, use and management of all Middlebury Land Trust properties. The Committee attends to the carrying out of such activities for the management and improvement of natural areas as cutting trails, constructing bridges, repairing dams, marking boundaries, checking on boundary infringements and posting signs. In addition, Preserve Managers have been appointed for some of the more significant natural areas. These are individuals who live near the particular area and regularly keep a lookout for fire, littering, potential vandalism or any other occurrence which might be harmful to the area.

Does Middlebury Land Trust Retain Ownership of All its Areas?

The Middlebury Land Trust will retain ownership of all properties previously acquired by it and which it acquires in the future with certain exceptions. The Middlebury Land Trust usually will not retain houses, and, therefore, any house situated on property given to it may be separated from the natural area and sold. The proceeds of any such sale would be added to the Middlebury Land Trust endowment fund. Most of the land owned by Middlebury Land Trust is further protected by deed restrictions prohibiting any buildings being erected thereon and certain other activities. In addition, the deeds to many properties provide that the title to such properties will revert to The Nature Conservancy or some other entity in the event restrictions are violated. The Certificate of Incorporation of Middlebury Land Trust provides that a responsible conservation organization would acquire title to all its properties if it ever went out of existence.

I Have No Land To Donate. How Can I Contribute to Middlebury Land Trust’s Future?

By making a contribution to the endowment fund. Only in this way can the Middlebury Land Trust advance and expand its programs. The Middlebury Land Trust hopes that through lifetime gifts, or by bequests, people in sympathy with its efforts will consider these ways of providing support.

How May an Individual Assist Middlebury Land Trust in Achieving its Objectives?

First, by becoming a member. Members are eligible to vote, hold office and to participate in Middlebury Land Trust functions. In addition, you may assist in natural area maintenance projects and encourage friends to join and support the Middlebury Land Trust. By 2001, Middlebury Land Trust owned more than 605 acres and had conservation easements over an additional 983 acres as a result of successful fund drives and a continuing flow of special gifts of land. You are urged to join this effective and rewarding effort to protect our natural heritage in Middlebury.

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