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Additional Conservation Methods

Conservation easements are the most traditional tool for conserving private land. A “conservation easement” (also known as a conservation restriction or conservation agreement) is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows landowners to continue to own and use their land, and they can also sell it or pass it on to heirs.

Here are some additional methods to consider:

Resale of Land

If you need to sell your land but don’t want to see it destroyed by development, a land trust can help. Prior to the sale, you can work with your local land trust to place a conservation easement on the land before it goes on the market. Some land trusts can also help identify potential buyers for conserved lands.

Donation of Land for Conservation

Donating land for conservation is one of the finest legacies a person can leave to future generations. If you choose to donate your land, your land trust can work with you to identify the best arrangement. The land trust might retain ownership of the property as a permanent preserve or transfer the property to a suitable owner, such as a government agency. In some cases, the land is sold to a private owner, subject to a conservation easement held by the land trust. (Proceeds from such a sale could fund the land trust’s long-term management of the conservation easement and/or help it to protect even more land.) The full market value of land donated to a nonprofit land trust is tax deductible as a charitable gift.

Bargain Sale

In a bargain sale, you sell your land to a land trust for less than its fair market value. This not only makes it more afford¬able for the land trust, but offers several benefits to you: it provides cash, avoids some capital gains tax, and entitles you to a charitable income tax deduction based on the difference between the land’s fair market value and its sale price.

Donation with a Lifetime Income

If you have land you would like to protect by donating it to a land trust, but you need to receive income during your lifetime, consider a charitable gift annuity or a charitable remainder unitrust. Charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder unitrusts are most useful for highly appreciated land, the sale of which would incur high capital gains tax.

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