Donating a conservation easement is a noble gift for the community and the future. Each conservation easement is unique in its contribution to a healthy, economically vibrant, Virginia landscape. Once a landowner has decided to explore donating an easement, it just takes a call to Land Trust of Virginia to get started.
Be sure to check out this general summary of the steps involved as a landowner!
The Land Trust of Virginia has criteria for accepting land conservation easements based upon federal, state and local guidelines which require that each easement property has some “significant” conservation value of forests, wetlands, waterways, endangered species habitat, historic sites, battlefields, important farmland and/or scenic areas.
At the invitation of a landowner, LTV will evaluate a property to determine whether it meets these criteria. Then, we work with landowners to tailor the easement to meet their future needs while protecting the natural resources. For example, an easement may cover portions of a property, an entire parcel, or allow an additional residence or agricultural building(s).
The benefits of conservation easements are substantial. Loving the land and the sense of place it provides inspires many to make this donation, they want to protect what they love. In addition, the landowner is often entitled to significant tax benefits, which may include:
- State income tax benefits, including tax credits under the Virginia Conservation Tax Credit Program (which are transferrable and may be sold)
- Federal income tax deductions
- State and federal estate tax benefits
- Lower local property taxes
After initiating the process with LTV, landowners should seek advice from their own tax and legal advisors regarding the financial and estate benefits of a conservation easement as well as engaging the services of a qualified conservation land appraiser.
Check out this example of how some of the tax incentives could work for you!
NOTE: Is the property you are considering protecting located in Loudoun County? If so, you might qualify for the Loudoun County Conservation Easement Assistance Program, which will provide up to $15,000 to assist with covering the costs of a conservation easement. The Program funding can cover the landowner’s attorney’s fees, land appraisal and survey fees, processing and document fees, and stewardship costs. We will apply for you and help you through the process. Check out this link for more information: https://www.loudoun.gov/5131/Conservation-Easement-Assistance-Program.
Once the easement is finalized and recorded, LTV begins their stewardship of the land. This means once a year LTV staff will visit and connect with you, the landowner(s), and all future landowners (successor landowners) – to ensure that the land is being maintained according to the design of the easement.