Lime Hollow Nature Center
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Conservation Easements

Conservation Easements are an effective way
to protect open space

Aside from a direct donation of land to our Preserve, one the most effective means of protecting the natural beauty and integrity of open space is to enter into a conservation easement.

A conservation easement provides a way for landowners who own land with scenic, historic, or cultural value to set aside their property for future generations.

An easement is a legal and permanent agreement into which a property owner enters with a land trust or a government agency to restrict the type and amount of development that may take place on their property, often with restrictions tailored to the particular property and interests of the owner.

The benefits to the landowners are many:

  • the satisfaction of knowing your wishes for your land will be followed after death
  • property tax advantages that accrue immediately
  • reduction of inheritance taxes
  • adjacent property values rising as a result of protecting scenic areas

If you are interested in selling or donating your land to Lime Hollow, either through an estate gift, bequest, or living trust, or would otherwise like to protect your land in perpetuity through a conservation easement, we would be happy to talk with you about any and all options available to you and your family.

FAQ's About Land Donations

Question

 

What is a Conservation Easement?

Answer

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement to protect land in perpetuity. Although filed with the deed, it does not transfer land ownership, but rather spells out a landowner’s commitments to protect the existing character of the property. It is a flexible tool, and is written to protect land in accordance with the landowner’s wishes and the Land Trust’s mission.

 

Question

 

If I give a conservation easement, do I still own and control my property?

Answer

Yes. You can still own, sell, lease, mortgage, farm, and conduct forestry, or otherwise use your property consistent with the terms of the conservation easement. Only the specific restrictions that you have negotiated with Lime Hollow limit what can be done with the property.

 

Question

 

Does a conservation easement require me to allow public access to my land?

Answer

No. The conservation easement does not give the public any rights to your land unless you decide to include such rights in the easement.

 

Question

 

To whom is a conservation easement given?

Answer

A conservation easement can be given either to a qualified non-profit organization or to a public body such as a town, a county, or a state agency. The recipient of the easement must accept it in writing and agree to enforce the terms of the conservation easement to assure that future owners of the property abide by it. Lime Hollow is a non-profit organization qualified to hold conservation easements.

Summary

  • Land Donation

    An outright gift of land for conservation is one of the most generous legacies a landowner can leave to future generations. Throughout Central New York, there are parks, shorelines, forests and scenic open spaces that are enjoyed by the public because of the vision of conservation-minded landowners.

    A gift of land to a nonprofit organization such as Lime Hollow is the simplest way to help us grow our protected preserve while receiving excellent benefits in tax savings. A land donation can be a means of obtaining permanent protection and will also directly support Lime Hollow financially.

  • Bequest or Living Trust

    Many landowners wish to retain maximum flexibility during their lifetimes and choose to carry out their conservation plans through a bequest or a living trust. A landowner can conserve important lands by donating property or donating a conservation easement through their wills.

    A bequest is a provision in the landowner's will or codicil (a will amendment) that instructs the estate's executor to convey land or a conservation easement to Lime Hollow. A living trust can achieve the same results but avoids the probate process.

    Both the bequests and living trusts can assure the permanent protection of the open space, permit the donor to control the property during his/her lifetime, and may reduce the donor's taxable estate.

  • Bargain Sale of Land

    Another approach with advantages to both the landowner and Lime Hollow is a bargain sale. The landowner sells a conservation-eligible property to Lime Hollow at less than full market value and donates the remaining value.

    What are the benefits to the landowner?

    For the landowner, a bargain sale combines the income-producing aspects of a land sale with the tax benefits of a donation. The difference between the fair market value (as determined by an appraisal) and the sale price is treated as a charitable contribution. The seller’s capital gains tax will be lower. The gain will be the difference between the reduced sale price (not the fair market value) and the donor’s pro rata tax basis. The seller can take a charitable deduction to reduce their income taxes.