What We Do
Land Trusts and Stewardship
A land trust is a legal entity that takes control of and/or ownership of a piece of property at the behest of the property owner. Land stewardship is the management and conservation of property over time, with a primary objective of preserving and protecting the land and its inhabitants.
Land Acquisition, Remediation, and Management
The mission of the Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust is (1) to identify properties for potential acquisition (for protection of ecologically sensitive areas and/or public access consistent with the BNRLT mission); (2) to evaluate the potential reclamation costs/funding opportunities associated with those properties; (3) to develop strategies for acquiring and preparing purchased properties to provide long-term public water access and/or protection of ecological resources; (4) to oversee the remediation and reclamation of those properties; and (5) to manage lands controlled by the BNRLT so that they remain clean and well maintained – encouraging communities to enjoy them and view these sites as valuable elements of their neighborhoods.
Acquisition of properties occurs through outright purchase or conservation easements.
There are a number of ways that a property could be purchased. The initial step would be to contact the Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust to ascertain if the property in question has been identified by the organization as being a property within the catchment area that meets the criteria of the BNRLT mission.
In a conservation easement, land is voluntarily sold or donated by the landowner and is protected through a legally binding agreement that limits certain types of uses and development from taking place on the land in perpetuity, while the land remains under private ownership.
After the execution of the conservation easements it is contemplated that environmental restoration and/or protection projects will be undertaken on the protected parcels to restore and compensate for a loss of public resources. The Land Trust is looking forward to obtaining additional conservation easements soon. Anyone who is interested in discussing possible conservation easements should contact the Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust to discuss details.
Remediation is the removal or sealing off of contaminants so that a site may be used again without health concerns. Remediation work carried out by the Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust occurs in partnership with relevant agencies and community organizations such as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper to coordinate efforts dealing with properties with legacy contamination.
Land remediation and the exploration of possible brownfield grant opportunities starts with an evaluation of a property’s past uses and the identification of possible contaminants through a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. If the Phase I assessment does not produce definitive results, a Phase II assessment may be required for further investigation. The process for remediation of a site depends on the legacy contaminants present along with the zoning and intended use of the property.
Coordination / Networks
WNY Regional Conservation Framework
In 2017, the Land Trust undertook the development of the WNY Regional Conservation Framework with funding from the NYS Conservation Partnership Program. The Land Trust worked with Waterkeeper, the Western New York Land Conservancy, Grassroots Gardens and Audubon Society to create a framework document that would allow each of these environmental organizations to align priorities and strategies and create a mechanism for coordination. The Framework was completed in 2018.