Efforts to establish a greenbelt may involve a variety of methods:
• Easements provide tax incentives to landowners who allow the public to use their land for recreational purposes (“recreational easements”), or to landowners who want to make sure that the land stays in its natural state (“conservation easements”), or for agricultural purposes (“agricultural easements”).
• Land trusts preserve land when a property owner sells land to the government, which protects it from certain types of uses and development through a land preservation agreement.
• Donation enables landowners who are especially concerned with preserving the natural state of their land to make a personal decision to donate it to the government or to an environmental organization conditioned on the preservation of its natural quality.
• Acquisition allows the government to purchase land from landowners and place limitations on development so as to preserve its natural quality; there are also various bridge financing and lease variations of acquisition.
• Transfer of Land Development is a program which allows people to buy and sell development rights from land that has a public benefit (like forest, farm, open space or trails). The development rights are transferred to a “receiving site,” usually a more densely populated urban area where residential development is more appropriate. The land with a public benefit is then placed under a conservation easement.
• Eminent domain, though considered among the last resorts, is an option by which the government can obtain and preserve land for public use in a greenbelt.
• U. S. Department of Agriculture Land Preservation Programs:
Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Programs
- combine federal, state and local funds to purchase conservations easements on land.
o The Forest Legacy Program involves partnerships between the Forest Service and local forestry agencies to preserve forests.
o The Grassland Reserve Program preserves grassland areas through rental agreements and conservation easements.