One way we can protect Vermont’s working landscape is to conserve land. This land includes farms that provide us with locally produced food; forests rich with timber, firewood, wildlife habitat; and town forests and trails that invite outdoor adventures and further our connection to nature and neighbors.
At the Vermont Land Trust, we work closely with landowners, families, and municipalities to protect land with a tool called a conservation easement.
What is a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is a legal agreement that limits subdivision and development, and protects the ecological, scenic and recreational values inherent to Vermont’s farms and forests.
Landowners who enter into this agreement with us continue to own the conserved property and pay property taxes, yet are free to sell the land. They also may continue to use the land for farming, forestry, recreation, education and other activities that sustain the property’s special resources.
Once finalized, a conservation easement will be tied to the land, whether the land is sold or remains in the family. This legal continuity will provide you the assurance that the land you cared for will be protected, even if you sell or convey your property.
What are my options?
Conservation easements can be donated or sold to a land trust. We work with landowners to determine whether their land can be conserved by an easement donation or an easement sale.
An appraisal by an independent, qualified appraiser determines the amount that is either claimed as a tax deduction in the case of an easement donation, or as a purchase price in the case of an easement sale.
There are several other options in addition to selling or donating a conservation easement, these include making a land gift or land purchase, or using a planned giving tool such as a bequest.
Many of the options offer financial or tax benefits which can: enable future land investments or improvements; help in the transfer of land to the next generation; or be part of a charitable gift planning. You can read more about all of these conservation options here.
Taking the next step
By discussing your unique property with you, we can assess the conservation opportunities best suited to the property’s resources, your financial or charitable objectives, and your vision for the future of your land.
Please call us to learn more about how to conserve your land, or land in your community, and be a part of keeping Vermont special for future generations.