Methods of Conserving Land

The Lakes Region Conservation Trust works with landowners and local volunteers to protect land with significant conservation value.  As described below, LRCT utilizes a variety of protection methods to achieve its conservation goals.  Prior to LRCT’s approval of a land conservation project, each project is reviewed by LRCT staff and evaluated by LRCT’s Lands Committee to determine whether the proposed project is consistent with LRCT’s conservation priorities.  Landowners who are interested in exploring land conservation options with LRCT are encouraged to complete and submit the LRCT Property Information Form and to contact LRCT if they wish to discuss the potential for initiating a land protection project.

Land Donation:  In donating land to LRCT, the donor relinquishes title and ownership of the land.  Land donors may realize significant tax advantages in return for their generosity.  Land donations may be made in a variety of ways, including:

  • Standard Fee Simple Donation:  The donor relinquishes full title and ownership of the land at the time of the gift.  No rights are retained.
  • Donation of Remainder Interest/Reservation of Life Tenancy:  The donor conveys title to the land to LRCT, but retains use of the property for him/herself and/or other designated persons during said person(s) lifetime(s).
  • Bequest of Land:  The donor bequeaths the land to LRCT, removing it from the donor’s estate at the time of death.  The donor retains all rights to the land during his or her lifetime.

Conservation Easement Donation:  A conservation easement is legal document, recorded at the registry of deeds, which specifies limitations on the future use of the property.  In donating a conservation easement, the landowner retains title and use of the land, with the exception of those rights that are relinquished or restricted under the easement, such as the right to develop or subdivide the property.  A conservation easement is permanent and legally binding on the current owner as well as all future owners of the land.  Provided that the conservation easement meets certain requirements, a gift of a conservation easement may result in tax advantages for the donor.

Bargain Sale of Land or Conservation Easement:  A bargain sale is a sale of land or a conservation easement to LRCT at a price less than its value.  In some circumstances, LRCT will consider purchasing land or a conservation easement at a bargain sale price if a donation is not an option.  Before deciding to purchase land or a conservation easement, LRCT would have to establish both the significant conservation value of the property and the potential for volunteer fundraising for the purchase.  A bargain sale may have certain tax advantages for a landowner.

Sale of Land or Conservation Easement:  In special circumstances, LRCT will consider purchasing land or a conservation easement at a price equal to its value if a donation is not an option.  Before deciding to purchase land or a conservation easement, LRCT would have to establish both the significant conservation value of the property and the potential for volunteer fundraising for the purchase.

With all land protection options, securing funding for long-term stewardship of the property is critical to the success of a conservation project.  Consequently, regardless of whether a gift or purchase is being considered, LRCT must carefully consider the availability of funding for future stewardship of the property.  In addition, a conservation easement holder is obligated to monitor the property regularly to ensure compliance with the easement, so LRCT must consider the availability of funds to cover such work, either from the easement grantor or from other sources.

Click here for a downloadable Land Conservation Packet with documents which give further details about the land conservation process.

Your tax advisor and/or attorney can best determine the merits and consequences of the various land protection options available to you.  The Lakes Region Conservation Trust advises you to consult such a professional prior to making decisions regarding your land. You can find additional information about tax benefits here. For further information on conserving family or community lands, please contact LRCT President Don Berry.