Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Trust
The Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Trust envisions a network of neighborhood parks, greenways, historic sites, and natural areas that create a community in harmony with its environment.
The Louisville and Jefferson County Environmental Trust protects land for future generations through voluntary cooperative programs. Created in 1997, the Trust helps to implement the goals of Louisville Metro's Comprehensive Plan, Plan 2040, that relate to parks and natural areas, greenways, historic sites and farmland. The Trust’s nine-member Oversight Board consists of five citizens and four members who represent government agencies responsible for public land. The Trust’s staff is housed at Metro Public Works. In a unique cooperative arrangement, technical expertise and staff support are also provided by staff in Metro Parks and Recreation, Metro Planning and Design Services, Metropolitan Sewer District and the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office.
The Louisville and Jefferson County Environmental Trust weaves together strategies for meeting the park and land preservation needs of current and future Louisville residents. The Trust:
- Promotes stewardship of natural and cultural resources, both public and private, within Louisville and Jefferson County
- Explores the use of voluntary methods of private land preservation such as donation and purchase of conservation easements and land
- Coordinates with all Louisville Metro agencies that manage natural areas on public land
- Advises the Metro Council on matters of land conservation
- Educates the community about the need to preserve natural areas and increasingly rare agricultural land
Interview with Kurt Mason, Chair, Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Trust
You can listen to our own Kurt Mason tell the story of the Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Trust! He sat down with Justin Mog of "Sustainability Now!" on Forward Radio in July 2020 to discuss the history, vision, and mission of our land trust, the importance of urban conservation, and the processes to protect YOUR land for future generations. Click here to listen on SoundCloud.
Salt River Watershed Collaborative Project
The Salt River Watershed Conservation Mapping Project is a cooperative effort of over 25 organizations and agencies interested in understanding and communicating the public benefits of voluntary conservation measures in the watershed. The project will improve and expand conservation mapping resources for the region. The first phase of the project was completed in April of 2018.
The Salt River project partners are working toward becoming a more formal collaboration, and discussion is underway with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about additional mapping work in the watershed to take place over the next year. The next phase of the project will involve a greater degree of public outreach and interaction. Eventually, these collaborative efforts and the maps produced will help ensure that as our region grows, the ensuing development recognizes the value of green space to benefit quality of life and increase property values. The project will provide landowners better information to help them achieve their goals for long-term management for areas rich in natural and cultural resources.
Visit the Shire Environmental: Salt River Watershed Conservation page to learn more.
PowerPoint Presentations (Land Owner Workshop)
- What is so Bad about Invasive Plants
- Invasive Plant Removal
- Why Goats
- Historic Landscape Design and Management
- Discovering Historic Landscapes
- Lower Howards Creek Preserve
- From Bernheim to Regional Conservation
- Large Scale Land Management
- Residential Restoration
- Natural Stormwater Management
- Take Care of Your Trees
- Berries, Birds and Boundaries
In order to educate Louisville residents about the need to preserve parks, natural areas, and agricultural land, the Trust sponsors land preservation workshops, seminars, and public presentations. Trust staff is also available to talk with community and civic groups and individual landowners.
The Trust’s projects involve agreements that will permanently conserve several unique areas. The Trust holds thirteen conservation and scenic easements and oversees several preservation or façade easements on over 1,500 acres of privately owned land in Louisville and Oldham County. These properties represent a diverse array of natural and historic resources that will enhance the quality of life for future generations of Louisville residents.
This rich portfolio includes an 1891 downtown office building, an early nineteenth century rural farmstead, an early twentieth century country estate and farm complex overlooking the Ohio River, a ridge-top orchard and forest retreat in the Knobs, a working farm producing heirloom sheep, an 82-acre property in the Floyds Fork watershed that will be conserved and managed as a nature preserve in honor of the donor’s wife and several properties that protect over 120 acres of increasingly rare southwest Jefferson County wetlands that would otherwise have been lost to development. In 2011 the Trust’s conservation program took a more regional turn with the acceptance of a conservation easement on a 524-acre farm in Oldham County that helps protect the Harrods Creek watershed that is shared by both Jefferson and Oldham Counties. The Trust has now accepted two more conservation easements in Oldham County.
The Trust staff and board continue to discuss land preservation strategies with landowners who are exploring ways to conserve their land and historic structures.
Public Land Management
In addition to the oversight of its privately owned conservation easements, the Environmental Trust also works closely with local government agencies on land conservation planning and management of publicly-owned sites. For example, the Trust collaborates with the Metropolitan Sewer District, which holds conservation easements in floodplains and along stream corridors. The goal is to work with MSD to ensure that those easements are adequately monitored and the properties preserved over the long term.
The Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Trust was first awarded accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission in March of 2014. At the time there were only 254 accredited land trusts out of 1,700 across the U.S. The Trust was the second land trust in Kentucky to achieve this distinction and the first quasi-governmental land trust in the U.S. to be accredited. Accreditation recognizes an organization’s commitment to excellence and continual learning and improvement. The Trust most recently renewed its accreditation in October 2019.
LAND CONSERVATION OPTIONS
The Trust assists landowners, land trusts and other non-profit organizations, elected officials, government agencies, developers and the business community by helping them understand the tools and options available for land preservation. The Trust’s staff works with landowners to develop long-term plans for the preservation and use of their land. With the landowner’s assistance, staff identifies each property’s natural, scenic, historic and agricultural resources and helps determine ways to preserve those conservation values. The Trust also works with government agencies and businesses to identify opportunities for meeting the park and natural area preservation needs of Louisville Metro’s residents. This may include protecting greenways for hiking, biking, and walking trails, natural areas for wildlife protection or scenic views along roadways. Another role of the Trust is to assist government agencies in identifying funding strategies for acquisition and management of parkland.
Conservation easements are one of the most widely used tools available for long term land conservation. A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Land protected by a conservation or preservation agreement can remain in private ownership. This allows landowners to continue to own and use their land to sell it or pass it on to heirs.
- ARE FLEXIBLE; They can be written to help achieve the landowner’s goals while assuring protection for the land.
- ARE PERMANENT; Land preservation agreements remain in force even after the land changes hands.
- CAN PROVIDE TAX BENEFITS; A land preservation agreement is considered a charitable donation. If the donation qualifies as a gift under the Internal Revenue Code Section 170(h), it may ease the income or estate tax burden of the landowner.
- DO NOT REQUIRE PUBLIC ACCESS; While some landowners do allow public access for activities such as hiking trails or canoe put-ins along rivers, this is entirely the choice of the landowner.
- REQUIRE REGULAR MONITORING; Monitoring and enforcement of the terms of the easement begin at the time of the donation with careful documentation of the property, including the land’s physical and resource attributions. Sites are monitored annually.
The Trust provides information about conservation easements and other land preservation options. The Trust does not, however, provide legal or financial advice nor can it guarantee that a deduction will be realized. Conservation easements are perpetual and involve a technical area of the law. Each landowner should consult with an attorney to review the easement, and may also wish to consult with an accountant or tax planner.
Monthly Oversight Board Meetings
The public is encouraged to attend LJCET meetings.
Oversight Board Meetings are held on the third Friday of the month, at 10:00 a.m.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings are currently held via WebEx videoconferencing. If you are interested in joining the virtual meeting, please contact [email protected] to receive the meeting information.
- Kurt D. Mason (Chair) – Retired, Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA)
- Noel Rueff (Vice Chair) – Retired, Metro Properties and sustainable landscaping business owner
- Robert Schindler – Retired, Metro Solid Waste Management
- Carol Clevenger – Retired, USPS Environmental Coordinator
- Carolyn Cromer – Ecological sustainability professional, environmental consultant
- Jeff Brown – Assistant Director, Metro Public Works and Assets
- Alternate Designee – John A. Swintosky, PLA, ASLA – Senior Landscape Architect, Metro Public Works, Greenways and Trails Office
- Ozzy Gibson – Interim Director, Metro Parks and Recreation
- Alternate Designee – Bennett Knox – Parks Administrator, Natural Areas Region
- Alternate Designee – John Studer – Parks Supervisor
- Yu (Emily) Liu, AICP – Director, Metro Planning and Design Services
- Alternate Designee – Joe Haberman, AICP – Planning and Design Manager, Metro Planning and Design
- Tony Parrott – Director, Metropolitan Sewer District
- Alternate Designee – Erin Wagoner – Environmental Partnerships Liaison, Metropolitan Sewer District
- Stephen J. Kendra – Professor, University of Louisville
- Kathy Osborne – UPS Pilot
- Jim Urban – Director, Oldham County Planning & Development Services
- Savannah Darr - Planning & Design Coordinator, Office of Planning and Design Services, Louisville Forward
- Lisa Hite, AICP – Project Manager, LJCET, Louisville Forward
- Jeff O'Brien - Chief of Louisville Forward and Director of LJCET
- Anne P. Scholtz - Staff Attorney for LJCET, Assistant Jefferson County Attorney
- Tamara Sluss, Ph.D. - Assistant Director, Office of Advanced Planning, Louisville Forward
Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Trust
c/o Advanced Planning and Sustainability
444 South 5th Street, Suite 600
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
“The entire community benefits when land is preserved through the donation of a conservation easement. Unfortunately, most of us never realize the value of that gift until the land, wildlife habitat, historic structures and scenic vistas become a rare and almost extinct commodity of our communities. The people who come to the LJCET for assistance have a vision that perhaps few others see. Our role is to help them find ways to maintain this vision and offer the opportunity for others to enjoy it for many more years.”
- Kurt Mason, Chair