Saratoga PLAN Preserving Land and Nature

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a land trust?

A land trust is a nonprofit organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting direct land transactions—primarily the purchase or acceptance of donations of land or conservation easements. Most serve a community, region, or state, although a few work nationally. Saratoga PLAN primarily serves Saratoga County and neighboring communities.

What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization or government agency that limits a property’s uses in order to protect its conservation values. A conservation easement offers several advantages:

  • It leaves the property in the ownership of the landowner, who may continue to live on it, sell it, or pass it on to heirs.

  • Private land subject to a conservation easement contributes to the local property tax rolls.

  • It can significantly lower estate taxes for the landowner’s family.

  • It is flexible, and can be written to meet the particular needs of the landowner while protecting the property’s resources.

  • It is permanent, remaining in force when the land changes hands. A land trust or government agency ensures the terms of the easement are followed.

Why the name Saratoga PLAN?

PLAN stands for “preserving land and nature”. The name of the new organization represents our overall mission. We are a land trust, which employs a variety of tools to protect lands, such as acquiring land for nature preserves or holding conservation easements on land to limit development. We are also committed to education and outreach on land use planning and financing methods for conservation. Our area of interest is the “ Saratoga Region”. We seek to partner with communities, organizations and individuals throughout our county to find innovative and traditional ways to guide development, reduce sprawl, and protect the inherent natural qualities of the region. To us that means helping to keep agriculture strong, building vibrant main streets and downtowns, protecting “special places” and view sheds as well as linking recreational resources across municipal boundaries. That means PLANNING along with PRESERVING LAND AND NATURE.

How is Saratoga PLAN funded?

Saratoga PLAN is funded through private donations from individual supporters (48%), foundation grants (16%), and public grants and contracts (36%). We currently have over 900 members who contribute time, make donations, and attend our fundraising events in support of our programs each year. In 2004, substantial government funding was provided by the Saratoga County Industrial Development Authority to hire a staff person to lead the Old Saratoga on the Hudson Program. We also received funding in support of our community planning program from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. In addition, Saratoga PLAN was awarded a staffing grant in 2004 from the New York State Conservation Partnership, administered by the Land Trust Alliance with funding from the State of New York. A copy of the latest Financial Report and Registration filed by Saratoga PLAN may be obtained from our offices, or by contacting the following state agency:

Office of the Attorney General
Department of Law, Charities Bureau
120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.

How is Saratoga PLAN governed?

Saratoga PLAN is governed by a Board of Directors. Board members represent a variety of professions and serve as liaisons to numerous communities throughout the region. The Board of Directors meets bimonthly and is guided by formally adopted by-laws. All board members serve on committees which guide particular programs and areas of operations. The committees may also include community members who are not serving on the board. Committees include: land protection, stewardship, planning, outreach and education.

When did Saratoga PLAN get started?

Saratoga PLAN was formed as a merger of the Saratoga Springs Open Space Project and the Land Trust of the Saratoga Region in July 2003. Both of the founding organizations started as grassroots volunteer operations in the late 1980’s. By 2003, both former organizations were ready to combine operations to create one strong, efficient, and sustainable land conservation organization and community planning advocate for the Saratoga region.

How does Saratoga PLAN work with communities?

Saratoga PLAN provides a continuum of land planning and conservation services to organizations and municipal governments working to improve local communities.

  • For those communities without comprehensive or open space plans, we can offer assistance in developing them. For instance, our Old Saratoga on the Hudson program involves the coordination of six municipalities in the Schuylerville region to develop and implement a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. The Plan will include substantial economic development potential for the downtown while developing a waterfront park and trail network and preserving farmland in the surrounding countryside to reduce the potential of sprawl development.

  • For those communities with comprehensive and open space plans in place, we can help implement them. For instance, we are currently assisting the Town of Halfmoon to protect Reilly Ridge Farm in an area of town identified for conservation values in the town’s plans. We are also working closely with the Town of Saratoga to implement farmland protection projects, and with the Town of Clifton Park on open space protection and management.

  • We can help communities develop local funding mechanisms, and seek outside sources of funding for farmland, open space, parks and recreational trail development. Saratoga PLAN has a 15-year track record in securing substantial public and private grants for local open space initiatives identified in community plans. And in 2002, we lead the development and passage of a $5 million bonding referendum for open space in the city of Saratoga Springs.

How can I get involved with Saratoga PLAN?

We need volunteer help in every aspect of our work. Volunteer jobs range from posting boundaries, to clearing trails, to stuffing envelopes, to event planning, to research on the internet. We need pro-bono professional help in the areas of communications, photography, law, accounting, information systems, and the natural sciences. If you would like to volunteer, please let us know by filling out the join/volunteer form.

I am interested in protecting my land, what should I do next?

Call us! We have staff and advisors experienced in the full range of land protection methods. As an introduction, the Land Trust Alliance’s soft-cover book, Conservation Options: A Landowners Guide is an excellent resource for those who are thinking about protecting their land. It offers an introduction to land protection as well as information about the various options for land protection. This book will get you acquainted with the basics of land protection so that you can protect your land in the best possible way. Conservation Options: A Landowner’s Guide is available for $10.