Preserving Land Through Outright Ownership
The Conservancy currently owns three properties. Two, Highpoint Preserve and Greenwood Sanctuary, are operated as preserves. They are available for research projects by several universities and for light recreation by our membership. We also own and manage land around Longford Lake. This land serves as a buffer strip along the edge of residential lots. That particular property was donated by the lake developers to ensure that there would be permanent open space for the enjoyment of the lake community.
Why might a landowner consider donating their land to a land trust?
Landowners may consider donating their land for many reasons. The biggest factor in their decision is often their emotional connection to it. Many landowners do not have heirs and simply can’t stand the thought of their land being developed into something unrecognizable to them. Others may have children that don’t have the same emotional connection to the land and would not protect it or might develop it in a way that the owners would like.
Many landowners would like to leave or donate their land to a land trust but still need some income from their property. Fortunately, that need not prevent a landowner from seeing their land protected forever. There are ways to both protect the land and provide the landowner with financial stability. Here are just a few of the options available to landowners. Of course, we work with the landowner to employ the best tool to meet their conservation and financial goals.
Land can be given to a land trust as an outright donation, or it can be donated to a land trust in a number of other ways, such as through a remainder interest or a bequest. Most land is donated to land trusts for its important conservation values and is protected in perpetuity; however, commercial and residential property can also be donated to a land trust with the understanding that it will be sold to support the organization’s conservation work.
A donation of land to a land trust can be an effective conservation strategy for one who does not wish to pass land on to heirs; owns highly appreciated property; no longer uses the land they own; wishes to reduce estate tax burdens; or are no longer willing or able to manage and care for the land. By donating land to a land trust, an owner may realize substantial income and estate tax benefits while avoiding capital gains taxes that may have resulted from the sale of the property.
A gift of a remainder interest (also known as a reserved life estate) is granted when a landowner donates land to a trust during his or her lifetime, but reserves the right for him or herself, and any other named party, to continue to live on the land until their death(s) or voluntary release of the interest. Donors of remainder interests may be eligible for income tax deductions.
Land Donation by Will or by Devise
A landowner can continue to own and manage his or her land during his or her lifetime, but still ensure its ultimate protection after death by donating land to a land trust through his or her will. This is called a gift by devise. If a landowner is interested in donating an easement or land through his or her will, he or she should discuss his or her plans with the recipient organization to ensure that the organization is willing and able to accept the gift.
A landowner may want to protect his or her land permanently but be unable or unwilling to relinquish that land without receiving financial compensation. In this case, the landowner may choose to sell his or her land to a land trust. The property may be sold at fair market value or at a price below fair market value, which is referred to as a bargain sale.
These are some of the more common conservation tools used by land trusts. There are many other strategies employed, as well. Contact us for more details or options.