Conservation Options

 

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Conservation Options

We work with landowners to help them identify conservation options that will fulfill their land protection goals and permanently preserve the important conservation resources of their land.  There are numerous land protection methods available to landowners.  We can assist you in identifying options that meet your specific needs.

Conservation Easement

Conservation easements are voluntary, legally binding agreements between MCT and the landowner. Conservation easements describe how the land can be used or developed, while also providing for the permanent protection of important conservation resources consistent with MCT’s mission.  

Each conservation easement is unique and specially crafted to meet a landowner’s conservation goals. Conservation easements are permanent, and current and future landowners must abide by its provisions.  The land can be sold or transferred but the easement provisions remain in place.  

MCT conducts annual monitoring visits to properties protected with conservation easements. Conservation easements do not require that the land be accessible by the public.

Donation of Land

MCT may accept donations of land that possess a significant natural, scenic or recreational qualities. 

MCT will work with landowners to develop acceptable terms for such a donation that is consistent with MCT’s mission. MCT may retain ownership of the donated land and manage it for the long-term protection of its conservation resources.  In other instances, MCT may sell or transfer the land to another appropriate owner, while making provisions for the permanent protection of the land and its resources.

Estate Planning

Donations of conservation easements or land can be useful estate planning tools. Donations can be made during the lifetime of the landowner or in his/her will.  Conservation easements reduce the fair market value of land, thereby reducing its value for estate tax purposes. The reduction in value may make it easier for heirs to keep the land.   

Donations of land could be made during the lifetime of the landowner as part of estate planning and result in income tax benefits. 

For example, a landowner could donate land while retaining a life estate that would allow the landowner to live on the property for the remainder of his/her life. Interested landowners should consult with their legal and /or tax advisor to obtain advice about how a donation could be structured and tax benefits that may be available to them.

Donation vs. Purchase

Both conservation easements and land may be donated and, depending upon available funding, may be purchased by MCT. 

Purchases are often accomplished through “bargain sales” where land is purchased for less than its full fair market value. A portion of the land’s value could also be donated to MCT. Thus, a bargain sale can provide both a cash component for the landowner and tax benefits associated with donating a portion of the value.

Tax Benefits

Donations of conservation easements or land may result in significant federal and state tax benefits, including income tax deduction, state tax credit, and reductions in property and estate taxes.  

Federal income tax benefits are particularly significant for qualified farmers or ranchers who donate a conservation easement that protects agricultural lands. Interested landowners should consult their legal and/or tax advisor about tax benefits that may be available to them.

-Trade Land

MCT may accept donations of land that do not possess significant conservation value.  

In such cases, MCT would sell the land, with conservation restrictions in place if appropriate, to generate support for its operations and programs.  Donations of trade land may qualify for federal and state tax benefits.

For more information about these and other conservation options, contact us at conserve@mctga.org; 706 253 4077.

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