Land trusts are private not-for-profit organizations whose mission is land and water conservation. Land trusts conserve natural areas by purchasing land from willing sellers or by negotiating private, voluntary conservation agreements with property owners to leave the land undeveloped.
There are 24 local land trusts in North Carolina that collectively have conserved more than 400,000 acres of farms, forests, rivers, wetlands, urban parks, coastlines and vistas.
Organizations that conserve land throughout the nation have a variety of names, including Land Trust, Conservancy, Preserve and, as in Mainspring, Conservation Trust. They range in size and territories covered, and often work collaboratively on land projects. Some land trusts are strictly run by volunteers; others, like Mainspring, began as a volunteer initiative and grew to include paid staff.
Mainspring Conservation Trust is accredited through the Land Trust Alliance, a national conservation organization that represents more than 1,700 land trusts across the United States.