There are a variety of additional conservation options that give you, as a landowner, the flexibility to meet your needs while providing lasting conservation benefits. Depending on your specific needs and interests, there are a variety of conservation techniques available to help you conserve your land. Many of these may include significant income, estate and property tax reductions that you should carefully consider with your legal and financial advisors.
Some landowners donate full ownership of their property to a land trust. This option may be best suited for you if you do not wish to leave your land to heirs, or no longer use the land. It is important to contact a land trust before making this decision. Donations can include all or just a portion of your property. It is possible to donate a property now and retain the right to live on and use the property during your lifetime. This is known as a “reserved life estate.”
With this choice you sell your land or an easement to a land trust at a price below what you could receive on the open market. The difference between the “fair market value” and the actual sale price is considered a donation to the land trust, and therefore nay contain significant tax benefits.
A bequest is also called a “donation by devise” and transfers ownership of your property to a land trust through your will. This is a good choice if financial compensation is not a necessity and you want to maintain the current use of your land. In addition, this option can confer estate tax benefits.
This option provides financial compensation for protecting your land. While most land trusts have limited funding for purchases, it may be possible for them to fundraise in order to purchase a particularly important piece of land. Many land trusts in Wisconsin use the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Fund, a state fund for land acquisition. When land trusts work with the Stewardship Fund or any public grant program, landowners should expect there to be several requirements to meet, including opening up the land to public use.
*Content courtesy of Gathering Waters Conservancy
“We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”