How we differ from the county’s Agland Preservation program

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As we talk with landowners, township officials, and others around Adams County, it’s apparent that there’s some confusion about the difference between the work of the Land Conservancy and that of the county’s Agricultural Land Preservation Program.

As we’ll explain below, these are two quite different programs—though we work together closely, sometimes even collaborating on the preservation of certain properties. Here are the key differences between the two programs:

1. The county’s Agland Preservation Program accepts preservation applications from landowners once every two years—but landowners may contact the Land Conservancy about preserving their land at any time. We’re free to apply for federal funding for the purchase of conservation easements on an as-needed, project-by-project basis, though of course, our federal funding sources are subject to budget cycles.

2. Under the Agland Preservation Program, Adams County provides funds to match state grants for the purchase of conservation easements—whereas the Land Conservancy works with a variety of funding sources, including state agencies, foundations, local municipalities, and private donors, to find the required local funds to match the federal grants we seek to purchase easements from landowners. This flexibility in funding sources means we can be more flexible in the kinds of land we preserve. And since we work with a variety of funding sources, often our local funding can be matched up to 3-to-1 by federal and state funds—bringing more money into the local economy (read more about this topic here and here).

3. The county’s Agland Preservation Program has a strict matrix of criteria, determined by the state, by which they must rank and ultimately choose to act on landowners’ applications for preservation—whereas the Land Conservancy’s criteria are tailored to the conservation values of Adams County. Because we’re free to seek funding from a range of different funding sources, and since each funding source has its own preservation criteria, we’re able to be much more flexible about what kinds of properties we can preserve.

4. As its name suggests, the county Agland Preservation Program can preserve only land used for agricultural purposes, whereas the Land Conservancy has the flexibility to preserve non-agricultural land as well, provided it meets our requirements for conservation or historic value.

5. Both the county Agland Preservation Program and the Land Conservancy work to preserve land in perpetuity, and so both organizations need to be prepared to provide long-term monitoring and enforcement of the conservation easements we hold. However, unlike the county-funded Agland program, the Land Conservancy’s long-term operations are not funded by Adams County or any other funding source, so we must require a contribution of $5,000 (or 2% of the easement purchase amount, whichever is larger) to cover these long-term stewardship costs—only $3,000 on easements that are donated.

Those are the major differences between the Land Conservancy and the county’s Agland Preservation Program. Got a question we haven’t answered here? Please drop us a line!