For nearly twenty years, the North American Land Trust’s unique planning approach has integrated conservation incentives with some development rights, a role model providing opportunities that could not be accomplished by more conventional methods.

We open the doors to many opportunities for conceptual planning by dividing the lands involved into three categories:

  • Lands that cannot be developed by regulation or impracticality;
  • Lands that should be preserved if the incentives are realistic; and
  • Lands that cannot be preserved due to their high conversion value for residential or commercial uses.

All of these elements are dealt with individually allowing for the use of several techniques and providing more options for the landowner.


The North American Land Trust carefully considers the relationship between the landowner and their land, with the ultimate goal being preservation of the landscape while achieving the owner's financial needs.

The Trust is careful to respect the current landowner's long-standing relationship with their land and the desire to leave a legacy. Learning about the lands involved and financial needs from the landowner helps to integrate vision with goals for a conceptual plan that includes:

  • careful blending of preservation with financial needs;
  • consideration of retirement funding or estate planning needs.

These important details are combined to create several conceptual plans to provide a variety of options that benefit both the landowner and landscape.


The North American Land Trust reaches out to developers to reduce density yet make a profit.

The Trust's alternative concept plans consider the unique nature of the property. We offer developers limited development options with a few chosen house sites.

Instead of doing five hundred lots over a fifteen-year period, the developer is able to sell large parcels designed as conservation plans with tax incentives, to future homestead buyers by explaining the benefits and the unique nature of the community. Such conservation plans are often approved quickly with less infrastructure costs. The time value of money and the reduction of risk capital are important considerations to such professionals.


The North American Land Trust assists government regulatory agencies when others avoid the challenge.

When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) approached The Trust in 2001, we agreed to partner with them to conserve natural resources on a parcel of land that would also incorporate limited land use by a local developer. In fact, The Endangered Species Act passed by Congress required USFWS to work with a conservation organization to hold a conservation easement on lands identified as Endangered Species habitat.

All the conservation organizations in that particular state refused to work with the USFWS, as local organizations were unwilling to preserve any portion of a project where a developer could build on a balance of the land, even though parts of the property would be saved.

So the Trust stepped in, negotiated the terms of a model conservation easement and stopped the lawsuits that were piling up. And our plan saved as much or more habitat than was initially envisioned. Now, each time the USFWS needs help, they contact us to partner with them.






Using a single tool like a conservation easement, or some change in zoning, can’t, by itself, protect the valuable natural, historical, and agricultural resources of an area. That’s why our approach integrates an array of conservation incentives with development practices rather than simply focusing on a single strategy.