How We Conserve Land with a Conservation Easement
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified land trust or government agency that restricts uses of land in order to protect its conservation values.
With a perpetual conservation easement on your land, you are assured that it will be protected forever without the need to leave the land or give up ownership. Each conservation agreement is tailored to the individual property and the goals of the landowner, and will permit or prohibit specific uses (e.g. logging, construction) as agreed between the landowner and the Land Trust. Conservation easements can be donated or sold. A donated conservation easement may be eligible for federal and/or New York State income tax, property tax and/or estate tax deductions, the value of which is determined by a qualified appraiser retained by the landowner. If you ever sell your land, the conservation easement (recorded in the County Clerk’s office in the deed registry) follows with the land, so that it remains protected forever.
The Responsibility of the Land Trust
To ensure that the conserved land is protected in perpetuity per the terms of the conservation easement and in compliance with the Land Trust’s legal obligation to enforce the terms of the conservation easement, the Land Trust monitors the land at least once a year to ensure the terms of the conservation easement are honored.
Donation of Land
Donating your land to the Orange County Land Trust may qualify as a charitable gift which could give you a reduction in both federal and New York State income taxes. If the donation qualifies, the deduction may be taken over several years to maximize its effectiveness.
If you sell your land to a qualified Land Trust at a discount (i.e., less than the appraised value), the portion of the value of the land that is gifted may qualify as a charitable donation and may be spread over several years’ tax returns.
Donating Land or Conservation Easement by Will, Remainder Trust, or Gift Annuity
You may donate your land to a Land Trust in your will. A conservation easement can also be granted in a will, but arrangements must be made with the Land Trust in advance, since the Land Trust must agree to accept its obligations under the conservation easement. You should work with the Land Trust in advance if you desire to will your land to the Land Trust. Although donations made in a landowner’s will do not result in tax savings during his or her lifetime, they may reduce inheritance taxes.
Consult a Tax Professional
Because each landowner’s property, personal and financial circumstances are unique, you must contact a qualified accountant or tax attorney to obtain advice on the optimum conservation plan, the tax savings you may realize, and available estate planning tools. The Land Trust cannot provide individual legal, tax or estate planning advice.
The content on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Contact your tax professional.
New York State
Farmers & Landowners
Hudson Valley Farmland Finder
American Farmland Trust
Cornell Cooperative Extension
Natural Resources Conservation Service
NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
US Department of Agriculture
USDA Farm Service Agency