Conservation Options for Landowners
Landowners seeking to conserve their land should contact a local land conservancy to get more detailed information about the conservation tools available to them. The following is a brief description of some of the more common, permanent land protection options.
Protecting Your Land While Retaining Ownership
Voluntarily donating a conservation easement to a land conservancy or a local unit of government is a common tool for permanently conserving land while keeping it in private ownership. Easements protect the conservation values of land from development by limiting the uses of the land in perpetuity. This legally binding agreement between a landowner and land conservancy or government agency allows landowners to continue to live on and use their land, sell it, or pass it on to their heirs while maintaining the conservation values upon which the land was conserved. Easements are permanent and run with the title of the land. Easement donors may be eligible for certain tax benefits for qualifying easements.
Resale of Land
Landowners can work with a local land conservancy to place a conservation easement on the land before it goes to market. This allows landowners the ability to sell their land while ensuring that it remains forever protected.Some conservancies can also help identify potential buyers for conserved land.
Purchase of Development Rights
When possible and when funds are available, a landowner may be able to sell the development rights to a land conservancy. The outcome is similar to a conservation easement, but instead of a donation, the landowner receives a cash payment for some or all of their development rights.
Donating or Selling Your Land
Donation of Land for Conservation
Donating land for conservation allows the legacy of the land to be protected forever. The donor and the land conservancy together determine the best option for the donated land which might include one of the following:
Landowners may have the option of selling their land to a land conservancy for less than its full market value. This allows the landowner to retain some profit from the land, avoid some capital gains tax, and entitles them to a charitable income tax deduction based on the difference between the land’s full market value and the sale price, all while making the transaction more affordable for the land conservancy.