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Conservation Easement

Keweenaw Land Trust protects lands in three ways:

1. We accept donations of land for permanent preservation under the guidelines established in our bylaws.

2. We hold conservation easements as a means for landowners to set permanent legal guidelines for the current and future use of their lands.

3. We acquire land through land purchases with funds raised by KLT. We also assist like-minded conservation organizations with land purchases.

What is a conservation easement?

If you own land and want to provide for its long term protection, while still retaining ownership of the land, you can establish a conservation easement on your land. A conservation easement is a flexible, legal means to preserve land values; it is recorded and attached to the deed to your property. The landowner who creates the easement tailors the easement to his/her wishes for the land, and this easement continues in perpetuity even when the land changes hands. The easement is held by a land trust or other conservation organization which provides for long term enforcement and monitoring of the land.

As a landowner, you have multiple rights to your land, such as the right to develop it and use its resources. Through a conservation easement, you donate certain rights to the land trust that then holds those rights in perpetuity. You do not give up ownership of the land or the right to use the land in ways designated in the easement. For example, if you want to continue to harvest timber, you can create an easement that retains the right to use your land in sustainable ways, but prevents development. This kind of easement is called a "working forest easement".

A conservation easement may entitle you to tax benefits, because the value of your easement can be treated as a charitable gift and can be deducted from income taxes if federal tax code requirements are met. Property taxes may be lowered if the easement lowers the fair market value of the land. Qualified appraisals are an important part of determining tax benefits, and an attorney and local assessors should be consulted. Estate taxes can also be an important consideration. Heirs are often forced to sell all or part of the land they inherit to pay estate taxes. However, a conservation easement may reduce inheritance taxes.

As the holder of your conservation easement, the Keweenaw Land Trust is legally responsible for monitoring the provisions of the easement by conducting annual inspections and enforcing restrictions. The landowner is encouraged to provide a donation to the trust to offset the cost of this perpetual stewardship.

For more information on conservation easements, please a contact us. Also, browse our online publications for articles on conservation easements.

News and Updates on the Conservation Tax Incentive




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