Williamson County No. 1 in Land Trust Preservation in State

Jamie Page, writer for The Tennessean, reports Williamson County has more individual properties preserved for future generations under The Land Trust for Tennessee than any other county in the state.

October 29, 2013
Written by: Jamie Page

Of the more than 91,000 acres of agricultural land, green space and recreational areas protected through Land Trust conservation easements in Tennessee, 5,988 acres are in Williamson County, said Jean Nelson, president and executive director of the Land Trust for Tennessee. That represents 43 land projects.

Some of the nonprofit’s first properties under the statewide program, when it began in 1999, were in Leiper’s Fork, including a farm owned by Aubrey Preston and nearby land owned by his mother, Cora Preston. “So, (Williamson County) really has always been the focus and a special place in our heart every single year,” Nelson said. “In fact, what we have done in Leiper’s Fork has turned out to be an inspiration for places across the state.
We have had people coming to visit there to see how the use of conserved property has contributed to the character of that area.” The Land Trust works with communities and willing landowners to protect natural and historic assets through permanent conservation easements.

The arrangement not only gives the landowner a tax deduction, it ensures that future generations cannot sell or develop the land to the extent allowed in the customized deed restrictions. “It’s a community gift, really. This is a permanent thing, and that’s one of the reasons it’s so important to have a really strong Land Trust to hold the easements,” said Nelson, who sits on the national Land Trust Alliance’s board of directors.

The Land Trust adds about 20-30 properties each year statewide and, on average, three or four are in Williamson County. As many as 12 in the county were added in 2007, said Emily Burnett Parish, assistant director of conservation for the nonprofit…


“Putting it under the Land Trust, part of it is sentimental and personal to me,” Berry said. “I want to see my affection for that land and the place I love preserved. I do think all the values the Land Trust represents and the reason they have these easements for ag land, open space, recreational space … contributes to the wildlife habitat and continuing agriculture, and I support those things wholeheartedly.”

“The urgency and the understanding of why this is important to protect these lands I would say is at an all-time high,” Nelson said. “One reason is, the economy is coming back and so is the interest in developing land. We are not anti-development at all. We are pro having a balance between development and conservation.”

“This boom — it paused for a little while — but it’s coming back with an acceleration,” Nelson said. “I am a Tennessee native, and we all take for granted that with so many pieces of undeveloped land that they are going to be farms or open land or creeks forever, but they disappear and they change. And we need the community’s help or these unique lands could be lost.”


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