What is going to happen to your land when you no longer are there to care for it? Do you want to make sure your land is cared for and respected now and for generations to come?
Permanently protecting your land is one of the greatest gifts you can give to our community. If you own “wild” land that you want to conserve, there are many ways Little Forks Conservancy can help you make it happen.
The most common method Little Forks uses to protect land is a conservation easement. A conservation easement is a permanent agreement between a landowner and Little Forks Conservancy which determines the uses of the property to best preserve its natural resources forever.
A conservation easement may protect rivers, streams, forests, floodplains, wildlife habitat, wetlands, or agricultural lands. Every agreement is unique and written to address the circumstances of the landowner and the specific property.
Conservation easements could be a desirable option for you because you retain ownership of your land while ensuring its protection. In addition, you may be able to obtain federal income tax, property tax, and estate tax benefits through the donation of a permanent conservation easement.
Donations of Land
Donating land to Little Forks Conservancy can be one of the finest legacies you can leave to future generations. Little Forks accepts lands with significant natural or cultural value to the community. The reasons you may choose this option vary, but could include:
- the lack of an heir to accept the land,
- you no longer use the property,
- you recognize the ecological or historical importance of the land and wish it to remain a legacy for the future, or
- you wish to reduce the exposure of your heirs to estate taxes.
Donating land may allow you to deduct up to 100% of the fair market value of the land at the time of your gift.
Little Forks will maintain certain properties as nature preserves open to the public for uses that do not compromise the natural resources of the land. For other properties, after consultation with you, Little Forks will evaluate the best way to conserve the land and make appropriate decisions to further our mission and protect the land.
Bargain Sale of Land or Conservation Easements
If you are not in a position to donate your property or a conservation easement outright, it may be possible to complete a bargain sale. Little Forks Conservancy can purchase the property or conservation easement at below market value. The difference between the sale price and the full market value of the property may be used as a tax deduction to offset capital gains taxes triggered by the sale.
Remainder Interests and Reserved Life Estates
It is possible to donate land to Little Forks while you continue to live on the property for the balance of your life and/or the lifetime of certain named individuals. This is known as a reserved life estate. When the landowner or others named by the landowner passes away, the life interest is released and Little Forks Conservancy is given full title and control over the property. An income tax deduction is possible, based on the difference between the full market value at the time of the contribution and the expected value of the reserved life estate.
If you wish to maintain full control over the land during your lifetime, but assure that it is protected after your death, a property or conservation easement can be bequeathed to Little Forks Conservancy by will. The gift must be accepted by Little Forks’ Board of Directors; therefore, it is important to make sure the project meets our criteria for acceptance.
Purchase of Land
In special situations the protection of a property is important enough for the Conservancy to purchase the property at its full market value. Little Forks Conservancy is restricted from paying more than full market value for any property it wishes to obtain.