If you own land in Vermont, or know of a special place in your community, you can make a difference in Vermont’s future by getting directly involved in land conservation.
We work with landowners to conserve all kinds of properties: historic hill farms and working dairy farms; land supporting vegetable, fruit, and diversified agricultural enterprises; family woodlots and sugarbushes; mountain ridgelines, wildlife habitat, and undeveloped shoreline along our state’s pristine lakes and ponds.
The most common methods of conservation include the donation of a conservation easement or the sale of a conservation easement (for full or less than full value). Some landowners choose to donate their land to us, and others add provisions in their wills to bequeath their property or a conservation easement. If you are unsure about conserving at this time, you could also give us a Right of First Refusal, which would allow us to match any future offers on your property. These different options are described in detail below.
The decision to conserve your land using any of these options requires careful consideration of your personal financial circumstances, your land resource and, above all, your hopes for the future of your land. It is important to talk with your tax and legal advisers to understand all the benefits and implications of land conservation.
The time it takes to conserve land can range from six months to several years. In addition, there are usually some costs involved with conservation, including expenses for your personal advisers, appraisal fees, and, for certain types of projects, a one-time contribution towards our staff and stewardship costs.
We are always happy to discuss which land conservation method will best suit your personal goals and your land.
Approaches to Conservation
Conservation Easement Donations
Thousands of acres of farm and forestland that contribute to the unique, rural character of Vermont have been permanently conserved by landowners who have donated conservation easements to the Vermont Land Trust. This popular method of conservation helps many families achieve their personal dream of protecting their land, while also making a lasting gift to their community and state. Landowners who choose to donate conservation easements will likely see tax benefits for their contribution. Read more.
Conservation Easement Sales
When the protection of Vermont’s best resources—farmland, broad tracts of forestland, or places of great importance to a community—is at stake, we often seek funds to purchase a conservation easement, or occasionally a parcel of land, from a landowner. By purchasing conservation easements, we have protected hundreds of farms, large tracts of productive forestland, and have helped many farm families achieve their business goals. Read more.
Selling a Conservation Easement for Less Than Full Value
This approach combines the charitable aspect of a conservation easement donation with the financial incentives of a conservation easement sale. With this approach, also known as a bargain sale, a landowner sells a conservation easement, or occasionally a parcel of land, at less than full appraised value, thereby donating a portion of the value to the Vermont Land Trust.
Bargain sales usually occur on high quality, productive farmland, forestland, or land that a town wants to acquire for public use. For the landowner, the value that is donated may qualify as a charitable gift which can provide income tax benefits or offset other capital gains taxes arising from the sale of land or a conservation easement. Please contact us to learn more.
Donating Land to the Vermont Land Trust
A donation of land is one of the most generous gifts a landowner can make to the Vermont Land Trust. A gift of land can offer relief from the expenses and responsibilities of ownership and provide a number of tax benefits, including a federal income tax deduction. There is also a planned giving option that allows a landowner to donate land to us while continuing to live on it. Read more.
Selling Land to the Vermont Land Trust
Occasionally, when an important piece of land is at stake, we will purchase property. Sometimes the land is a farm at risk of imminent development or sale. Other times, it may be a swimming hole or forest which a town has identified as an important public site worthy of protection.
Right of First Refusal
If conservation isn’t right for you at this time, but you want us to have an opportunity to purchase and conserve your land in the future, you could give us a Right of First Refusal. In the event you—or future owners—decide to sell the property, we would have the opportunity to match a purchase offer received for your land and have the “first right” to buy the property.