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 2022, there were more
than 250 members. Middlebury Land Trust has a Board
of Directors consisting
of eleven 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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
I Have No Land To Donate. How Can I Contribute to Middlebury Land Trust’s
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 2020, Middlebury Land Trust owned more than 1,932
acres and had conservation easements over an additional 1064 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.