Conservation Objectives

The majority of land we protect is through the voluntary donation of conservation easements by landowners. Some landowners like to reserve the right for some future development of the property, however we must ensure the right balance between protecting natural resources and allowing new structures. We aim to protect a variety of natural and community resources through our partnerships with landowners according to the following guidelines:

Forests play a vital role in our ecosystem by retaining moisture, producing oxygen, holding highly erodible soil on the hillsides, and providing wildlife habitat. Humans are entirely dependent on the plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms that make up the biodiversity of our land. Our goal is to preserve the forest integrity, size and connectivity as much as possible.

On our conserved properties, all forest management should be based on accepted silvacultural practices. All logging should be done based on a management plan prepared by a forester and approved by HHLT; accepted NYS sustainable forestry guidelines; and/or NYS 480-A logging guidelines.

Also, allowing nature to help guide a site design by minimizing the degree to which the terrain is altered can help preserve biodiversity. These factors should be considered when identifying a building envelope or siting new structures.

Stream corridors, ponds, wetlands, aquifers, and floodplains store and regulate runoff, control erosion, provide habitat for diverse species, and help filter pollutants to protect groundwater. Conserved properties should have a 100-foot minimum setback from a stream, wetland, or water body in order to preserve water quality. In many cases, this is a New York State DEC requirement.

Although agricultural lands within our mission area continue to dwindle, remaining farms provide a unique scenic quality and are a source of food for our growing local population. We suggest locating structures at the edge of a field rather than in the middle, which preserves future agricultural potential and offsite views.

Architecture that complements rather than dominates a property, and appropriate siting and design of buildings is essential to protecting offsite views. We want to ensure buildings on our conserved properties are sited to affect the least amount of change to the existing landscape in order to protect the property’s most valuable assets.

We will not accept easements where crestline or ridgeline siting is proposed. Building along the side of a hill or ridge rather on the crest, where the sun is hotter, the wind is colder and stronger, and landscape plants have a hard time growing, is always preferable. A crest site also impacts offsite views.

The size of acceptable building envelopes will depend upon the size of the property. Clustering buildings together and retaining larger blocks of undeveloped land is consistent with surrounding land use patterns and stronger protection of our resources.

The size of a principal residence and any accessory structures should be in proportion to the acreage being protected. The landscape, rather than the buildings, should remain the dominant feature.

The height of buildings should not exceed 30′ as measured from the average historic mean grade to the top of the highest roof peak. Well-designed architecture blends into, rather than protrudes from, the landscape. Buildings should not protrude above the treetops, as seen from offsite.

Under our easements, non-reflective material for siding and roofs is recommended. Preference is also given to muted, natural paint colors, unless the structure is historic and brighter colors are more historically accurate.

Agricultural structures are allowed on properties that have agricultural land. The size of agricultural structures should be in proportion to the amount of agricultural land on the property being protected. Indoor riding arenas will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

HHLT requests architectural review over siting and impact of buildings, not over someone’s taste.

Outdoor lighting should not result in glare that is inconsistent with the rural character or the natural environment. Night lighting can have a negative impact on offsite views as well as on the nocturnal habits of neighboring wildlife.

Unpaved driveways are strongly encouraged over paved surfaces.