Ways to Protect and Conserve Your Land
SVT’s Land Protection Staff
Director of Land Protection
978- 443-5588, ext. 115
Land Protection Specialist
978-443-5588, ext. 121
For more information about how to protect your land, download these SVT publications:
Several techniques are available for protecting land in perpetuity, all of which can be tailored to fit a landowner’s unique situation. The choice of which option to pursue will depend upon the natural characteristics of the land, the landowner’s goals for the property, and the landowner’s financial objectives, including income and estate tax planning.
Ways to Protect Property by Conveying Ownership
Donating land to a nonprofit conservation organization or government entity. With this option, a landowner permanently conveys ownership of the land to the nonprofit organization or government body, which is then responsible for the long-term care and management of the property. This is the most straightforward means of permanently conserving land.
Selling land to a nonprofit conservation organization. This is an option for landowners who are not able or willing to donate their land for conservation purposes. Selling at less than fair market value may result in tax savings, as well as income.
A Conservation Restriction (CR) is one of the best and most commonly used conservation options used by landowners. A CR (called a Conservation Easement in other states) is a legally binding agreement that allows landowners to retain ownership of their property while permanently restricting certain activities on the land.
A CR is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land conservation organization such as SVT. While restricting some activities, a CR can also permit other specified activities, such as farming, forestry, and hiking. Land protected with a CR may be bought and sold, but the provisions of the CR pass to new owners in perpetuity.
Landowners who protect their land with a CR may benefit from reduced property taxes, though ultimately this is up to the local tax assessor. CRs that are donated or sold for less-than-fair-market-value may also generate income tax savings for the donor.
A Reserved Life Estate allows a landowner and his or her beneficiaries to use the property during their lifetimes or for a specified period of time. At the end of the specified term, ownership is transferred to the land trust. In some cases, the trust may resell the land, subject to a permanent conservation restriction.
Donating Land by Bequest ensures protection of land through a will. This is a good approach if the financial value of the property needs to be maintained in case of emergency, but otherwise promises that the land will be conserved if it does not need to be sold in the owner’s lifetime.