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Keep Your Land

Our Offer:

Voluntary Land Protection Agreements

If you are contemplating the way forward for your land, we invite you to begin a confidential discussion with us about whether a Voluntary Land Protection Agreement might be right for you and your family.


These agreements can help you:

  • Keep a beloved piece of property in the family for generations to come

  • Protect that land in the condition it is today

  • Obtain tax benefits

  • Receive payments that you can reinvest in your land, pay bills, or enjoy yourself.

Here’s how it works: We negotiate an agreement that permanently waives some or all of the future development rights on your land. We compensate you for the rights you waive, and you may obtain tax benefits, as well. 

Dozens of landowners in Rensselaer County have signed these agreements to conserve their land. Come join them!.

The lands you choose to protect are still your lands. You can post the property, farm it, cut trees, sell it, and pass it on to your heirs. 

Voluntary Land Protection Agreements are flexible — you decide how much of your land to protect and how strictly to protect it. 

In the past, we have worked with landowners to protect portions of a parcel to protect, while leaving others available for future home construction. Some agreements allow forestry or timber harvest to continue, while others do not. Some landowners welcome the public to the protected property, while others choose not to. 

What is the Tomhannock Rural Land Campaign?

It is a program to preserve open space, woodlands, and agricultural land around the Tomhannock Reservoir, which is the water supply for more than 100,000 people in Rensselaer County. The campaign partners are the Rensselaer Land Trust, Rensselaer Plateau Alliance, and Agricultural Stewardship Association.

What is a Voluntary Land Protection Agreement?

It’s a win-win for you and downstream water users.  The agreements restrict future development in return for upfront compensation and possible long-term tax benefits. These agreements are flexible and we can tailor them to meet your needs. Landowners often explore these agreements when getting started in farming, or during estate planning. 

What Properties are Eligible?

Candidate properties can be farms, woodlands, or natural areas that drain to the Tomhannock Reservoir. We prefer parcels that are 25 acres or more and land with streams. We will consider other parcels as well.  

Where Does the Money Come From? 

We have a dedicated pool of funds from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. We will use these funds on a first-come, first-served basis until they are gone. 


Why Would I Want to Do This? 

Landowners execute these agreements for many reasons, but here are the most common:

How Much Would I Get Paid?

The amount depends on the size and value of the parcel you choose to protect, how restrictive the agreement is, and other factors. According to program guidelines, payments can be up to 66% of the value of the development rights you agree to sell. You could receive thousands of dollars — and you get to keep your land! 

You may also qualify for tax benefits. The difference between the appraised value of the development rights you sell and the amount you receive from us is deemed to be a gift to the land trust for which you could receive a charitable deduction on your income tax return to the extent allowed by law. And New York State offers an annual income tax credit to taxpayers whose land is restricted by a conservation easement. We recommend that you consult with your accountant, financial advisor, and tax attorney concerning your qualification for these possible tax benefits. 

How Do I Get Started?

Call or write Jim Daus, Land Protection Manager, Rensselaer Land Trust, 518-659-5263,


Once you reach out to us, we will begin confidential negotiations with you about protecting your land. The negotiations continue until we come to an agreement on a fair offer. 

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