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VOL. 42 | NO. 32 | Friday, August 10, 2018
Conserving land that would otherwise be developed
By Hollie Deese
In some ways, the frenzy to buy land suitable for building Middle Tennessee homes has been accelerated by landowners turning to conservation as a way to preserve the rolling landscape.
“The development that is happening in Middle Tennessee is definitely driving some land owners to come to us now,” says Liz McLaurin, president and CEO with the Land Trust for Tennessee. “Or to come back to us. People we may have talked to 10 years ago are coming back to us.
“Some of those land owners who are calling on us to help them conserve their land so they can keep it as they want it to be kept, forever, are doing so because of the development they see happening around them.”
The Land Trust for Tennessee works with communities and willing landowners to protect private and public land with a range of tools. In most cases, it works with private landowners to conserve land with legal agreements that empower landowners to limit development on their land while they continue to own their land to farm, pass down to relatives or even sell.
“Conservation goes in waves, everywhere,” McLaurin adds. “I would say that we are seeing a wave of interest from private land owners in conserving their land.”
Williamson County has 6,288 acres conserved through the Land Trust, while Davidson County has 2,537 acres, Montgomery County 3,410 acres, Robertson County 2,818 acres and Sumner County 1,679 acres.
Of course, turning down developer money is difficult.
“For many people their land is their most valuable asset,” McLaurin acknowledges. “So, when land values are as high as they are, it’s a very hard decision for land owners who have significant land holdings. Their hearts may say they want to conserve it but it’s their most valuable asset as well.”
McLaurin says one of the things that drives people and companies to move here is the proximity of office space, dining and shopping near rural areas such as Leiper’s Fork that have preserved community character and open space.
“There are lots of economic stats that say there is great value to having open space in your community, and once it’s gone, it’s gone,” McLaurin says. “You can’t get it back.”