Committee Members

John Hughes
(term ends 2018)

Nancy Smith
(term ends 2018) 

Larry Brickman 
(term ends 2019)

Dale Morris 
(term ends 2019)

Deborah Fenn
(term ends 2020)

Jon Sundquist 
(term ends 2020)

Kerrie Gallo
(term ends 2020) 

 

 

Additional participants always welcome.

Conservation Easement

WHAT IS A CONSERVATION EASEMENT?

goose.JPGLand trusts use a variety of tools to help protect public and private lands. One of the most important and sometimes least understood is preservation by conservation easement.

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Conservation easements help to protect working farms, watershed areas, wetlands, wildlife habitat, open space and the scenic beauty in a region. They allow a landowner to continue to own and use the land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs.

When landowners donate a conservation easement to a land trust, they permanently give up some of the rights associated with the land. For example, they might give up the right to build additional residences, while reserving the right to farm. Future owners also will be bound by the easement’s terms and the land trust is responsible for making sure the easement’s terms are followed.

Conservation easements are flexible land protection tools. An easement on property containing rare wildlife habitat might prohibit any development on that property. Another property may have an easement that may allow some commercial use of the land (e.g. selective logging and farming). Easements do not necessarily apply to a landowner’s entire property. It may apply to just a portion of a property. Conservation easements do not require public access onto the property, a common misconception.

A conservation easement donation that meets federal tax code requirements can qualify as a tax deductible charitable donation. For income tax purposes, the value of the donation is the difference between the land’s value with the easement and its value without the easement. Also New York State property tax credits are now available to conservation easement donors.

Conservation easements can be essential for passing land onto the next generation. By removing the land’s development potential, the easement lowers its market value and its value for estate tax. Whether the easement is donated during life or by will, it can make a critical difference in the heir’s ability to keep the land intact and its conservation values protected.

Conservation easements are just one way to protect land. For further information on easements and other methods of land protection, contact your local land trust.