Martha’s Vineyard is fortunate to have a growing network of walking trails. While Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation maintains more than ten miles of trails on our sanctuaries, there are many miles more on the land of other conservation organizations. What’s more is that organizations such as the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the Vineyard Conservation Society and civic-minded landowners have been working to create trails that extend beyond the boundaries of conservation properties and connect one property to the next. Sheriff’s Meadow desires to help extend and connect to this growing network of island trails.
To that end, trail easements have joined donations of land, conservation restrictions, remainder interests and the like as an important means of conserving land. Like conservation restrictions, trail easements are legal documents and represent an agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization. With a trail easement, the landowner grants the right of public access to the conservation organization, and the conservation organization agrees to maintain the trail. Again, like conservation restrictions, trail easements are often given to the conservation organization but are also sold at times.
We believe that trail easements offer a unique and attractive means of conserving land because they can apply to so many properties. Small, nondescript parcels that may not appear to have great conservation value may nevertheless be perfect candidates for a trail easement. Such parcels may connect an inaccessible property to a public road, they may connect a property to an existing trail, or they may connect two disjointed pieces of conservation land. Furthermore, a landowner may convey a trail easement over a property without restricting in any way the use of the rest of his land.
We encourage those with an interest in trail easements to contact Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation.