Leave a legacy: Conserve Your Land

Conservation as a labor of love

One thing unites all the people ACT has ever worked with to conserve their land. It's love. First and foremost, they protect their land because they love it. 

There are many other reasons why people conserve their land.  Among them:
•  Family history and heritage
•  Estate planning
•  Tax benefits
•  Financial return
•  Leave a community legacy
•  Honor or memorialize a loved one

Every conservation project is different, just as people and families are different and no two properties are exactly the same.  We work with you as a team, through an iterative process of questions and discovery. Together we craft a conservation solution that fits your goals and protects the land's conservation values. 

There are three major conservation options: 1) place a conservation easement on your land; 2) donate your land; and 3) sell your land. 


What is a Conservation Easement?

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Landowners continue to own and use their land, can sell it, or pass it on to heirs. Conservation easements are covered in federal law and may have tax benefits. 

Conservation easement

You retain full ownership of your land and protect it forever.

When a landowner donates a conservation easement to a land trust such as ACT, they continue to own it but extinguish some of the rights associated with land. Typically they give up the right to subdivide and develop the land.

The owner continues to use the land for farming, harvesting timber, or simply enjoying it for recreation and beauty.  Limited additional building (such as a home for a child, or selling off a house lot) may be allowed, as long as the conservation values of the land are protected.

Conservation easements are written for perpetuity and are part of the property deed, so future owners are also bound by the terms. As the easement holder, ACT is responsible for making sure the easement provisions are followed - forever. 

Conservation easements offer great flexibility, and together we craft the easement to reflect your interests and goals and the needs of the land. For example, an easement protecting sensitive wildlife habitat might prohibit any development, while a farm easement would encourage continued farming and allow additional agricultural buildings. An easement may apply to an entire property or just a portion of it, and need not require public access.

Because there is public benefit to conserving land, the federal tax code offers incentives to landowners. The value of a donated easement may be taken as a tax deduction against the landowner’s federal income tax. 

land Donation

Your land becomes part of the public trust and is protected forever.

Donating land for conservation is one of the finest legacies an individual or family can leave to future generations.

ACT is honored to work with landowners who wish to establish a family or memorial forest, or otherwise donate land that deserves to be protected forever.  When ACT assumes ownership, we manage land to the highest standards of stewardship. We offer our land for education, encourage public recreation, and manage it for wildlife habitat, clean water, high quality timber, and climate change resilience. You can learn more about our land management principles here

Learn the stories of families who have donated their land to ACT here.

other types of donations 

leave a bequest

Leaving your property to ACT is another way to plan for the land's future. Some landowners, particularly those without heirs, or who provide for their children in other ways and wish to see their land conserved, choose to leave their land to ACT in their wills. 

remainder interest

If your long-term strategy is to donate your property to ACT, you may realize an immediate tax benefit by donating the property now, and retaining the right to live there. 

house lots, homes, and other properties

Some landowners donate property they no longer use. Some have substantial real estate holdings and wish to reduce tax burdens, or want to be free of managing and carrying the costs of a property. Depending on the situation, ACT may accept a donation of a house and/or land, if appropriate place a conservation easement on it so its future development is limited, and then sell it, with the proceeds going to protect other lands. 

Land donations are tax deductible, may reduce estate taxes, and may avoid capital gains taxes that would have resulted from selling the land. In all of the donation scenarios, we work with you to create the best strategies for your needs. 

Sell It

for properties with exemplary public conservation values, ACT may purchase the land or the easement

Some properties have such high public conservation importance that funds may be raised to purchase the land outright or purchase the development rights and create a conservation easement. Often the landowner is willing to make a "bargain sale" at less than fair market value. This way the owner gets cash, may avoid some capital gains tax, and may take a tax deduction based on the difference between the sale price and the land’s appraised value.  

The Whipple Field in Sugar Hill is an example of a bargain sale to ACT. The Sunset Hill Golf Course is an example of ACT’s raising funds to purchase development rights.