For the Love of the Land

Sometimes a person owns some acreage that they may have either purchased or inherited. This acreage is really special, as it is beautiful, natural or untouched. If you are that person, you may want to preserve its beauty and make sure that it does not just become another subdivision. What step can you take now that will help you to preserve that land and its purpose?

One of the things that you can do is to give a conservation easement to a not for profit, such as The Nature Conservancy, who will make sure that the property is maintained in its current state. Sometimes the easement is located along the perimeter of the property where the potential development might occur. If the property is ever sold, it is sold subject to that easement so the next owner would not be able to develop that property where the easement is located. This does diminish the value of the overall property, but the owner of the property who granted the easement can get an income tax deduction for the difference between what the property was worth before the easement and what it is worth after the easement.

Sometimes the easement is more extensive. For instance, a Libertyville man had visited an area in the northern part of Wisconsin for years. His family spent many of their summer vacations near this land. He had watched for the day that he could buy the land and make sure that it was preserved. Eventually, he bought over 3,000 acres. He negotiated a conservation easement with the Gathering Waters Conservancy and Northwoods Land Trust to limit its use, which means that while the property may have cottages located on the property, it will not have a large scale development on it. Instead, the handful of cottages on it will allow skiers and nature lovers to have access to the property. In the conservation easement, he created the Winter Park Pines Nature Preserve that will be overseen by the Northwoods Land Trust. The easement also allowed for the management of the forest on the property, but no clearcutting of the trees on the property. If this is of further interest to you, feel free to read the rest of the story in the December 30, 2011 issue of the Chicago Tribune.

There is no doubt that this man will receive a tax deduction for the gift of the conservation easement, but he really did it for the love of the land.