Tips for talking one-on-one with a landowner

Your role may include interacting with landowners one-on-one, such as a forester or a municipal official. Or your role may include approaching individual landowners who live in landscapes with high ecological, cultural, or recreational value (e.g., if you represent a land trust, an open space committee, or a watershed association). Below are some considerations for approaching landowners:

1. Decisions about the future of the land often arise suddenly. One of the most valuable things you can do for landowners is let them know that you are available to provide information and contacts when they are ready to think about the future of the land.

2. Landowners have a strong preference for receiving information about planning the future of their land from experts. Though time intensive, connecting landowners to an expert for a one-on-one conversation is likely to be very effective. This may be a good strategy for focus areas of high ecological importance.

3. When speaking with landowners, encourage them to investigate all their options. Let them know that there are people working locally who can help them learn about their conservation options. There are also some excellent resources that can help landowners and their families make a decision that is right for them. Send them hard copies, links, or PDFs of these resources.

4. Unless you are an expert appraiser, don’t raise a landowner’s expectations by discussing dollar values. Location of the land, amount of frontage, and types of soil are all factors that influence the financial value of the land.

5. Unless you are an estate planning attorney, don’t provide legal advice. Be prepared to recommend attorneys in your area who have experience with land and land conservation tools.

6. Conversations initiated by a trusted friend often bring about the best results. If you do not know the landowner personally, see if there is a mutual friend who will meet with you.

7. Do not pressure a landowner. A decision about what to do with the land in the future is based on many factors—personal, financial, social, and familial. These are difficult decisions that often take time. Provide information and contacts, and give the landowner and his or her family time to digest everything. This process most often takes years.