Local land trusts exist throughout Maryland to help property owners protect their land.

Each has its own board of directors and staff that shepherd the process toward permanent protection through conservation easements, gifts or purchases of land, limited development, conservation buyers or promotion of existing local, state or federal easement programs.

While easements are held independently by these smaller trusts, the Maryland Environmental Trust, in many cases, ‘co-holds’ easements with the locals. This brings extra resources to the smaller organizations such as stronger legal protection if there’s ever a challenge to an easement. For the landowner, a joint easement carries greater tax benefit than one held only by the local trust. The local trusts, on the other hand, often accept smaller parcels for conservation. Standards differ by organization. Today, 40,000 acres are preserved in easements co-held by MET and local trusts. Another 30,000 acres are protected by easements held only by locals.