The land trust concept has been part of American conservation efforts since 1891. Land trusts today protect 56 million acres of open space, forests, creeks, farms, ranches and other properties across the United States from threats of commercial or residential over-development. Land trusts work with landowners to create conservation easements, or receive parcels outright through gifts, bequests and purchases. They then preserve the property undeveloped or for its historic cultural or agricultural use. Conservation easements and land donations provide tax benefits for landowners.