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Local and regional land trusts, organized as charitable organizations under federal tax laws, are directly involved in conserving land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historical, and agricultural values. Working directly with willing landowners, land trusts can purchase land for permanent protection, accept donations of land or the funds to purchase land, accept bequests, or accept the donations of land preservation agreements, which permanently limit the type and scope of development that can take place on the land. In some instances, land trusts also purchase land preservation agreements or take ownership for permanent protection.

Land trusts also educate the public and advocate for the need to conserve land. They can help landonwers tailor a conservation plan to their individual situation and financial circumstances, and determine the property's conservation values and future ownership.