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Land Aquisition

Public incentives for conservation of private lands are essential.5warrenwoods The vast majority of the nation's open land is in private ownership. While many owners would like to keep their land in open space, few can afford to do so by philanthropy alone. Permanent conservation is the best public investment. Public investment in perpetual conservation measures is the best for the land, the landowner, and the taxpayer. It rewards landowners for long-term conservation vision while achieving cost-effective conservation goals. Public land ownership and management must complement private conservation. The Mendon Foundation focuses on privately owned open space to assist the landowner in balancing open space and land development. It also serves as a steward for publicly owned land. Presently there is an imbalance due to government incentives tipping the scale away from private land conservation to private land developing. This imbalance must be corrected through sound conservation land incentives and analysis of the equity and real financial and environmental costs of subsidizing development.

Private landowners are the backbone of the land trust movement. They are the ones to decide what to with their land. Land trusts, such as the Mendon Foundation, work with landowners who choose, voluntarily, to protect their land rather than develop it, and exercise that right by dedicating their land to conservation for the public benefit.

Land trusts make strong conservation partners. Public policy aimed at stewardship of private lands includes a clear role for land trusts. Because all land is part of a larger ecosystem, watershed or habitat, lasting conservation requires cooperation among landowners, businesses, local, state, or federal agencies, and citizens. Nonprofit community-based land trusts have proven success if forging these partnerships, as well as assisting with such tasks as managing publicly owned land and monitoring and helping to enforce conservation easements. Moreover, when land trusts want to protect a natural area, create a park, or establish a greenway, they work directly with landowners to craft mutually agreeable, flexible, fair strategies for long term conservation—often at greatly reduced public cost. The Mendon Foundation is committed to meeting these ideals in the conservation of land.

LAND DONATION: Land may be directly endowed to the Mendon Foundation before or after death. It is the best conservation strategy a person can leave to future generations. The Foundation then becomes the sole owner and steward of the land. Land acquisition by a land trust would keep the land in perpetuity. This may be the best conservation strategy if you do not wish to pass the land on to heirs; own property you no longer use; own highly appreciated property; have substantial real estate holdings or tax burdens; or would like to be relieved of the responsibility of managing and caring for the land.

CONSERVATION EASEMENT: A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently protects open space by limiting the amount and type of development that can take place, but continues to leave the land in private ownership. When a landowner donates or sells a conservation easement to a land trust, he can continue to live on or work the land in accordance with easement's provisions, can sell the land, or pass it on to heirs. Donating the easement can result in reduced income and estate taxes.

More work will continue this year and early next on Conlewis-woodslrservation Easements and Land Donations. Be sure to look for further updates. If you are interested in learning about land donations or conservation easements.

Over the past few years the Mendon Foundation has received a total of 135 acres in land donation. The first endowment of 25 acres was given to preserve the open space and woodlot on the parcel. There are woods, streams, steep slopes and other geological features unique to Mendon on all the donated parcels. Wildlife is in abundance in their natural habitats. Various conservation and preservation methods are currently being evaluated to decide which ones will best save these valuable resources. As discussed previously, Sibleyville Nature Reserve endowment has become its own unique parcel of land. The Foundation was also fortunate enough to have the Totiakton Indian site become part of their land trust.

Totiakton meaning  "bend in the river" is the most historically significant archeological site in the Town of Mendon. To become stewards of this property was an honor for the Foundation. Historically, in 1655 Ganondagan with a population of 4,500 was the capital of the Seneca Nation, the westernmost tribe of the Five Nation Iroquois Indians. Totiakton, town of the western branch of the Nation was located between Plains Road (the earliest known settlement) and the bluffs overlooking Honeoye Creek. It was called chateaux by the French or a capital by the English, which was defined as a chief town with 1,000 inhabitants. They lived in communal dwellings called "long houses". There was also evidence found of a Jesuit missionary influence in the village. The Genesee River was the Nation's western border; Lake Ontario the northern border; the Pennsylvania state line the southern border and its eastern border midway between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. After 1657 the western border expanded to Western New York and the southern shore of Lake Erie. It was an Indian society rich with culture. The Senecas were equal beaver fur trading partners with the French, English and Dutch. 75% of the artifacts found at both sites are of European origin. In 1687 France wanted control over the fur trade. The French invaded the Seneca Nation from Canada destroying Ganondagon and Totiakton and burning 1,200,000 bushels of corn. The Seneca Nation then regrouped on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, never to rebuild Totiakton again. Are you interested in preserving this historic treasure of Mendon?

Make a donation to the Mendon Foundation today.