Nonprofits focused on conserving land through purchase or easement—commonly known as land trusts—have played an important role in U.S. land protection since 1891, when the Massachusetts legislature established The Trustees of Public Reservations. More than 1,300 land trusts now operate nationwide, with 667 focused on Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.
A conservation-easement tax incentive passed by Congress in 2006 supported one surge in acres protected. In 2015, Congress made the incentive permanent, increasing some benefits. Only time will tell if another surge follows.