Photo by: Wendy Carlson

HVA Launches Greenprint Landowner Incentive Fund

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) has been awarded a significant grant of $100,000 from the Jesse B. Cox Charitable Trust Fund under its highly competitive Donated Land and Easement Program.  HVA was invited to apply for this grant as the host and lead partner of the Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative, a regional conservation partnership (RCP) of 24 land trusts in Northwest Connecticut.  

The Cox Trust grant provides capital to cover certain transaction costs associated with the donation of conservation easements and fee simple lands of ecological significance.  Under the terms of the grant, HVA will establish a competitive grant program called the Greenprint Landowner Incentive Fund to assist its Greenprint partners on qualified projects by helping to cover some of the major costs, such as surveys, easement baseline studies and property management plans, needed to ensure sound and durable conservation transactions.   

“This funding opportunity is a game changer for the land trusts in our region” said HVA’s Tim Abbott, who directs the Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative. “When someone donates the property or a conservation easement, there are costs associated with accepting that gift that donors and land trusts are not always able to finance.  This will allow some important land protection efforts to go forward and we hope will inspire others to take that step to save special places across our region.”

Manuel Cords, President of Colebrook Land Conservancy, applauds HVA’s effort to secure this funding source.  “We believe that an ability to pay some of the out of pocket costs either incurred by the Conservancy or the donor would make a material difference in our ability to further these transactions” says Cords.  “While the Conservancy has in the past been fortunate in its efforts to keep our expenses in the acquisition process relatively modest, in our experience, the out of pocket costs often create a very real drag on closing our conservation efforts.”  

The Litchfield Hill Greenprint Collaborative is among the most effective and innovative regional conservation partnerships in the Northeast.  Six of its member land trusts have been nationally accredited and several more are working toward accreditation in the coming year.   Working collaboratively has allowed its land trust members to secure funding from outside their individual communities for projects of regional importance and to protect landscapes and watersheds that cover multiple towns and jurisdictions. 

“The Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative shows us what is possible when individuals and groups of people collaborate over time to do big things like conserve and care for county-sized landscapes of contiguous woods, farms, and river networks” says Highstead Foundation’s Bill Labich.  Based in Redding, Connecticut, Highstead sponsors the RCP Network and worked closely with The Cox Trust to develop the concept for the Donated Land and Easement Program to benefit RCPs across New England.

The Greenprint Steering Committee has drafted criteria and invited the members of the Collaborative to apply to the Greenprint Landowner Incentive Fund.  HVA and the Steering Committee are reviewing proposals on a rolling basis and look forward to helping save important places proposed for conservation by our land trust members.

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